Pilate’s Painting

There is a legend that Pontius Pilate painted Christ

long after he retired as governor.

What a challenge that would have been

to capture the man you so briefly spoke to

on a wooden panel

yet who’s life (and death) will stay with you

for the rest of yours.

Would you take red and accentuate the blood

dripping from his crown of thorns?

Or would you use precious lapis or azurite to render

Herod’s ironically gifted robes?

You mix your pigments with bees wax and olive oil

and you layer them on the panel

you work it over and over like a madman

until the skin of your hands is painted too,

and no matter how much you wash them –

no matter how many bowls of clean water you use

you can’t get those stains to come off.

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