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William Congdon, Crocefisso 2
Article Fiction

"The Word Has Weight": Poetry for Holy Week

Rita A. Simmonds

As the Church prepares to ponder the Passion and the Resurrection of Jesus in the days to come, we invite our readers to enter into these mysteries by way of two poems written by Rita A. Simmonds.

A contemporary Catholic poet of note, Ms. Simmonds has published several collections of poetry, among them Souls and the City (2013), Bitterness and Sweet Love: The Way of the Cross and Other Lenten Poems (2014), and He Called: Selected Poems (2020). Her poetry—spare, incisive, and steeped in silence and prayer—has garnered multiple accolades at the annual Catholic Press Association Awards and appears regularly in Magnificat magazine.

The Fourteenth Station: Jesus Is Laid in the Tomb

The Word

has weight

pondered unbroken

carefully carried

quietly placed

solemnly sealed




The Word has



and sown

each step

on its own is

The Way.[1]

The Word Made Flesh


Nothing comes before you

whom nothing came before.

Your being, a silent orb

spinning into darkness,

fire to a cold star,

earthquake to sea,

tsunami to land,

invisible blast

over everything made

through you

to the sound of your voice—

a promise posed,

a tuning fork.

Minds enlarge,

kings engage

a constant course.

You re-enter time to await.

Word suspended

on a Virgin’s acceptance—


Yes, and you enter


into her darkness—

the space you created.

Your emptying unites

to her purest cell

the size of a seed

clinging to her wall.

It forms flesh,

curls around a red flame

fanning fingers and toes,

liver and lungs,

your blazing heart beats,

feeding on your mother’s blood.

Her water breaks.

For the first time, you cry.

What can you know,

you who knew everything?

It’s cold.

You have no memory,

lost in your mother’s eyes.

You, the reason for everything,

must grow to the age of reason

and leave your family grieving

when first you hear

your Father’s call.


“Why have you done this to us?”

Your mother asks.

You speak strange yet simple phrases.

You say you say what you hear.

It is not your time

when the bride and groom

run out of wine.

Yet you bend yourself,

spend yourself

at your mother’s request.

The best is for last.

She enters your darkness,

the space you created for her.

“Father, forgive them.”

Your heart beats

beneath the beating,

flares at each fall,

combusts as you’re lifted up

on the dry wood.

You thirst. You burn.

The Father’s voice—unheard.

For the last time, you cry.

Your flesh hangs.

Your mother folds.

Blood and water explode

from your side.

Your spirit descends

into the depths of time

to free the prophets and kings,

the enlightened minds.

Your flesh is lowered

into your mother’s lap.

How well she knows

your fingers and toes,

the shape of your eyes, and

Yes, the blood from your veins

that blankets your flesh.

There is nothing left

but to rise.

[1] Rita A. Simmonds, Bitterness and Sweet love: The Way of the Cross and Other Lenten Poems (2014), 15.

Humanum: Issues in Family, Culture & Science
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