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Before Pilate

Diane Pacitti

There were two ways to kill him.
The first was easy: they had done that already
To thousands of others, but first
They dressed him in the purple robe of Rome,

And Pilate said,
'Years after your death we will embrace you,
And our embrace is lethal. You will see
The leaders of your Church strut in the robes

Of this Empire that condemns you to death.
We will make your name a battle-cry,
A shout for land and power, which will lead
Soldiers just like these to brutal wars.

And by the way,
Do not think you can escape this by dying
Between two outcasts. You will watch us load
Your priests with gold, and see them clutch and clutch.'

They all grinned,
Yes, that would finish him off more surely
Than any spear-thrust. Pilate drew close.
'Now, earthly king, enjoy your crown of thorns.'

He stood alone
Dressed in that violent robe, its imperial purple
Streaked with innocent blood. The soldiers bowed
To their new master. No wonder

That grave could never be still.