Sign of the Cross


this gesture —
kneeling in a pew
touching forehead, heart,
left lung, right lung.

dogwood blossoms —
four petals
touched with sacrificial blood.

broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale —
four leaves at right angles,
cruciferous vegetables.

"The powers
of the four quarters of the earth...
cross each other..."
Black Elk said,
"where they cross,
the place is holy."

In astrology, the grand cross
(that's not in every birth chart) has
two oppositions bound by
four hard squares
my stuck karma
my anchor

I dot lotion, touching
forehead, nose, cheeks, chin,
gesture of the four directions,

imprinting on my visage
a symbol
of a structure of torture and death
that existed long before the innocent one hung
between two thieves.

the crucified through all those millennia
could not know their agony
was a prelude to

a crucifixtion
that changed for all time the symbolism
from ghastly horror to patient, obedient love,
forgiveness, suffering, sacrifice,
redemption, salvation,
healing, gratitude, hope.

John Paul II said he always
lifted his pectoral cross
over his head
with a prayer,
taking up his cross.

again this morning,
dabbing my face with healing liquid,
smoothing it, touching
laugh lines, frown lines,
tightness, dryness,

placing the cross on flesh —
marking myself,
linking myself
with unnumbered tortured ones,
lifting myself
with Christ's ascension,
humbly touching the realm of the sacred.