At San Fernando Cathedral

     Andrea Jurjević 

   

      —San Antonio, Texas

 

Tourists, also in need of a break from mankind, slide in, a handful at the time, they whisper, take

          photos. It’s the season of lent and we are not here to enter but to observe

 

suffering. Long purple silk drapes the reed wreaths and the constellation of vases by the altar,

          pours out of them

 

like vomit. Perhaps vomit is not the best word, but multitudes of Christs hang across these walls,                           bleeding, and we’re told, wash in the blood of Jesus, so what’s wrong

 

with a bit of vomit. It’s understandable, nailed alive, anyone would bleed, piss, spit, and shit all

          over themselves.

 

And weep. Oh. Weep like a man. I’m not a sadist but tears of men are a turn-on fast like the flap

          of pigeon wings.

 

Take Jesus—muscles tight, trembling, face twisted, eyes wet, pain eclipsing his body—

 

that imminence of release, the man calling your name, crying it out like the safe word, and, tell

          me, who in this picture is pretending to be human?

 

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Andrea Jurjević is a Croatian poet and literary translator. She is the author of Small Crimes, winner of the 2015 Philip Levine Prize, and the chapbook Nightcall (Willow Springs Editions, 2021). Her book-length translations from Croatian include Mamasafari (Diálogos Press, 2018) and Dead Letter Office (The Word Works, 2020), which was shortlisted for the 2021 National Translation Award in Poetry.