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Evan Plotkin and I
Sit on my front stoop.
He is Jewish. I am Catholic.
We compare.  
Menorah, he says. Light.
Matzoh, he says. Food.
Dreidel, he says. Game.
Crucifix, I say. Death.

Yes. It’s true. A tiny dead guy – Our Lord –
hangs from a brass cross
In my parents’ bedroom,
I tell Evan.
I see this dead guy every day.
Don’t give him much thought.

No way, Evan says.
He has never seen a crucifix,
Does not know that
Our Lord died for our sins.

I am unable to explain how this is so.
How did Our Lord know I would pull the
cat’s tail this morning, just to make him yowl?
And was my stroke of cruelty worth dying over?

Evan asks to see the crucifix.
He can’t believe my parents have
a dead guy – even if he is brass — in
the room where they sleep.

I take Evan inside.
The crucifix is the first thing we see
when we enter the bedroom.
Big and shiny. Hard to miss.
Look, I say, pointing.
I glance at Our Lord,
then at Evan, then
back at Our Lord.

Our Lord is a little brass man,
Like a toy.
His limp body
Hangs from this cross,
His tiny face raised
Hands and feet pinned down with shiny nails.

What do you think of that?
I ask Evan.
Evan is nine,
Three years older than me.
It makes me feel kinda sick, he says.

I look closely at Our Lord.
For once, I see him.
See the crown of thorns
pressed into his head.
See the agony on his little golden face.

 

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