Now when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land, until the ninth hour.
Sirocco winds blew away dusty, stifling haze and a dust devil
swirled between three upright timbers shouldering their gruesome billboards.
The sun was eclipsed under lumps of yeast mixed with soot.
Thundered growled. Two soldiers swapped wine,
barely noticing three drooping criminals. The Centurion
honed his spear blade with a stone, glanced up:
“Jupiter is flashing lightning but holding back rain.”
Whirling sand and grit stung until a grain struck his eye.
He blinked, tearing and rubbing and cursing. Wind ceased.
Most of the mob left. The nailed three moaned and gasped,
writhed and swayed, like pinioned sheep ready for skinning.
He and the one with thorny crown locked eyes.
JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS
“If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself” he smirked.
Glancing at the tunic he won for his wife, he imagined
bleaching it and rubbing spices on it for their anniversary.
They gambled away the hours, barely hearing voices
between a thief and King Jew, ignoring bloody puddles
welling below the crosses. Pilate’s order came. Grabbing mallets,
they aimed at their knees but when the Centurion
faced the Nazarene, he suddenly remembered
“It is finished” and puzzled at this reedy man,
his plea for his God. Was he dead? Time to get off duty.
He lanced the man and heard “Father, forgive them . . . .”
The ground shook. A limestone boulder cracked and rented.
He steadied against the cross, trembling. Shrouds of blackened clouds
split apart and sunshine glazed the hill with golden veneer.
“This must have been a son of god.
He was innocent.” “Go home,” to his two guards.
Grabbing and hiding the folded tunic for his Roman wife,
He left as three weeping women hurried past.
“Cornelius, welcome back” his Roman wife beckoned.
All night he heard the Nazarene and saw his gaze.
1Lk. 23:37, 2Jn. 19:30, 3Lk. 23:46, 4Mt. 27:54, 5Lk. 23:47