On Viewing the Crucifixion by El Greco
in the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Let someone paint a non-ethereal Christ,
A man in sweat upon the cross
With blood drying on his hands and face
And fear in his eyes
In that moment when he cried out alone.
Let someone paint the moment
When the fear of pain became pain itself
Before it was accepted and endured;
That moment when death still seemed
An eternity away.
Show me not the proud god
Reclining gracefully on the cross;
Rather the naked man
Hanging in distorted agony
From hands torn raged by the nails.
A sallow, crumpled Christ
Covered in sweat-soaked dirt from the road,
Facing the final temptation of despair
When the human was all too real
And the god too difficult an idea
To be believed.