Long shadows born of morning light
 Stretch forth from city walls
And touch creation like the shroud
 Of those whom death befalls.

No bird dares add a joyous note
 To sorrows in the air,
Or interrupt this day of rest
 For those still unaware.

There, just beyond the southwest gate,
 Gehenna cloaks its shame
With embers hot enough to smoke
 Yet not enough to flame.

Behold! a wagon creaks and groans
 Along the earthen roadó
A pair of hungry oxen strain
 Against their heavy load.

Six Roman soldiers flank the cart
 Heaped high with man's debrisó
What rubbish borne of earthly toil,
 Needs guarding by decree?

Two rugged timbers, short and long,
 Onto the coals are tossedó
Each crudely notched by human hands,
 As if once nailed and crossed.

But lo! the flames refuse to claim
 The testaments of wood,
Yet swiftly scorch the splintered edge
 Of things less understood.

Within the holes where iron nails
 Had once been driven deep,
A blush of life begins to spread
 From stains where life did seep.

Amid the smoke, six blossoms bloom
 Upon a creeping vine,
Their centers pure as virgin bread
 And petals red as wine.

Along the splintered beams they climb
 Until their tendrils cling
Around a plaque which bears the name
 Of an eternal King.

... From high atop the city wall,
     A bird begins to sing ...