John R. Smith
for Peter Mantell
I think I know what the pastor of the church across the street was thinking
as he repaired the life-size cross to be erected for Lent.
He wasn't worried about raising it upright in a muddy spring lawn,
nor was he concerned with draping a purple cloth in front of the post's neck
and over the back of both shoulders of the crossbar like a loose scarf,
or looping the material like a snake drooping from both out-stretched arms.
He didn't anticipate the Friday when he would switch purple cloth for black
or the following Sunday when he would trade in black for white,
wasn't focused on redemption as he drove a six-inch nail
into the beams' intersection, wobbly since last spring.
Though he said nothing, his thoughts rang out with every dull clang.
He was thinking about the hammer in his hand, how it fitted the hand
of someone long ago, as I was thinking how it fit my hand, too.
John Smith's poetry has appeared in journals such as SmartishPace, Berfrois Journal, The Literary Review, and Spillway. His work has been set to music by composer, Tina Davidson, and commissioned by New Jersey Audubon. His book of poetry is titled Even That Indigo. John lives in Frenchtown, NJ with his wife, the calligrapher and henna artist, Catherine Lent.