At a side altar, the Golgotha
Mary, her veil at her eyes
and John, head bowed
the beloved Christ, the sun and moon dismayed.
A woman approached with a glass vase
of spring flowers.
Tulips, lipstick red, orange and sun yellow
their hearts dark, black and golden stamens
and the thick fleshy leaves
standing up among the blooms.
The orange tulips hung down over the lip
of the vase, a prostration
their petals sharp and pointed.
The water was cool and transparent
for stems green and slender.
She brought in a vase of light, of air, of freshness.
She brought in a vase of courage, of joy, of tragedy
They blazed and called out to the faithful
to look, to revel in the beauty of the world.
She placed them between two sober pots
that held twin orchids, white, angelic blooms.
They stood guard, their white faces flat and open.
Large and round, suspended on curved stems
and dark shield-like leaves, close to the pots.
The orchids, pure, like meditative souls, bowed,
to their worldly sisters.
Those grave angels, their hearts lit by the fire of tulips.
Orthodox Churches have a side altar dedicated to the Crucifixion. This poem is set during Holy Week