Lamentation of Christ: Sold Off to Pay Debts

Elisabeth Murawski

This is no oasis of peace,
      Mantegna’s dead Christ, the body
            foreshortened, the head

enlarged, more like a wounded
      dwarf’s, the focus
            on the shrouded genitals:

behold the man. The ribcage looms
      as it must have heaved to breathe
            on the cross, fighting

gravity, the lips stiff and taut
      with suffering unrelieved
            even on the slab,

Mary, John, and Magdalene looking on
      with all the helplessness
            of those who love

and can do nothing. A painting
      Mantegna saved to grace his coffin.
            Something about the model’s

mouth, the angle of the head, the chin.
      I’d not expected this resemblance
            to my son. The accident

stole mobility, his mind. Fifteen months
      of cruel, extravagant hope.
            I was sleeping when he died.