4/8/77, St. Luke’s Church

Nick Ripatrazone

This year Christ is played
by an Italian boy, arms
darkened with extract,
face shrouded by a mask,
eyes wide above
a firm jaw:
although the correct height
for the part, the boy’s
cheeks belied suffering.

Pulleys raise the crucifix:
spotlights gleam
the reds and yellows of plastic,
sixteen year-old sinews
and synthetic eyes.
Can he breathe
beneath all that rubber and heat,
castigations and hymns?

The cedar cross lowers
with the strain of a tree
pulled from roots: rope wound
over skin and wood, bound enough
to become one.

Nick Ripatrazone lives with his wife in New Jersey. His recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Kenyon Review, The Saint Ann’s Review, Sou’wester, The Los Angeles Review, and The New York Quarterly. A staff writer for Luna Park Review, he is pursuing an MFA from Rutgers University.