A Good Friday poem by Sandhya Jha and Tai Amri Spann-Wilson

Tai Amri and I had five minutes to preach on the “third word” at a Good Friday service yesterday.

We co-created this poem, each taking a stanza and passing the growing work back and forth, over the course of an hour, in response to the following passage:

John 19:25-27: Standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.


Mother, Behold Thy Son. Behold Thy Mother.


Pre-teens skating on church steps, leaving their mark

black wheels on marble—

Hipsters sipping single origin espresso served

by carefully ungroomed baristas.

Heavy woman swaying into wispy man

eastbound on the 57 rolling down MacArthur;

Clustered together, pressed together and utterly, completely alone.


A fate we rail against, loud and desperate

raging on facebook, preaching on the street corner,

Wailing on walls, where we add our tags

To the layers of “NOTICE ME” graffiti beneath

Silently weeping in the privacy of our room, our apartment, our car,

Silently sulking in a family-packed house,

with no one who’s really our kin.

Alone because the world has torn us apart,

Pitted us against each other,

Taught us well

We can only trust our own,

And our own will hurt us too.


Bright lights in eyesite

Youth shackles,

OPD arrives promptly when the deacon calls

Nannies are always cheapest

From the slave ships

Beauty is always bought at the highest price

Orphans are always the first

To stick you up

When G-d was the only one, who knew your name

And your only friend is the internet

The walls are blank, where the rich die

But here, in the empire’s backyard

Mothers build altars to the dead

And everyone’s your auntie

Everyone feels your bruises

And everyone is your shelter


Jesus’ undisrupted view from the cross

Through sweat and blood,

Was on empire’s backyard,

On family rent asunder, in hiding…

And on mothers and aunties and sons,

Afraid, aching, mourning, broken,

but there,

in the shadow of the cross,

In the shadow of Rome,

In the shadow of longing and loneliness and defeat,

But there.


No more now you are everyone’s keeper

No more now they are yours

No more now you can’t be numb

No more now you can’t give up

The light is yours, bequeathed, your mother, her child

She scolds you to move something

She dresses your dying body

She spits on your domination

Broken up and split into oneness


And every day we walk the streets

We witness Jesus’ brokenness,

We feel the ache of alone

And then we witness his gift to us from the cross

In each other’s embrace in the midst of the ache:

We are each others’.

We are ours.

We are sons and mothers and family in the midst of fear

And overcoming fear,

In the midst of alone,

And overcoming alone.


You are who I was looking for

In the eyes of Jesus

Your arms are what I was crying for

To G-d

You are who I had in mind

When I said, G-d I love you

Us, the fulfillment of promise

Jesus loved, for us


Mother, behold thy son.

Behold thy mother.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: