A Calvary in Beechhurst

He’s moved his body crossways in the bed.
His bony legs are thrust between the bars.
His knees are scored with crusted scabs and scars,
But time has not effaced his striking head.

His urine soaks his undershirt; the sheet
Beneath him’s drenched. He will be hard to shift.
I roll him on his side and slowly lift
The saturated bedding. No small feat.


I’ve thought of killing him and then myself;
No chandelier in here would hold my weight.
And so I guess that I shall have to wait
Until his old age kills me. Though I laugh,

I’ve learned a thing that cannot be denied:
One does not need nails to be crucified.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Bruce Snowden
5 years 2 months ago
I like that poem because I can understand it. It speaks to real life, especially when "real life" includes caring for a totally dependent person, in "diapers" as they say. I greatly dislike the term "diaper" referring to an adult - diapers are for babies and toddlers, not for somebody's mother, father. wife. husband, adult family member, any adult., Call it "Adult Undergarment" not diaper. I am surprised that even in Catholic Health Care Centers that word is used. But I'm off track. Yes, "one does not need nails to be crucified." My sister is in a nursing home for twelve years nailed to her wheelchair or bed,, affixed as was Jesus to his Cross, unable to go anywhere, unable to even swat a fly off his face sipping his sweat and blood! It is all around hard and only Faith cushions the pain and a sense of humor, in pushing wheel chairs, trying to turn bodies in dead weight, perhaps swimming in a yellow sea of urine as the poem suggests. Yes, caring for the gravely sick can be a Calvary, the greater one for the sick person, but Calvary too for the caregiver. But many go their merry way, children or family never, or hardly ever visiting and when they do visit fleeing as soon as they can! Oh yes, there are many Calvaries and let's face it sooner or later we all get nailed there in one way or the other, with Jesus, our true consolation.


The latest from america

Psychedelics can blur the line between science and spirituality—but Christian mysticism cannot be studied.
Terrance KleinJanuary 17, 2019
The extensive New York Times series in support of legal abortion unfolds as if the last 46 years of the abortion debate following Roe v. Wade never happened and did not need to.
​Helen AlvaréJanuary 17, 2019
In 1983, Sri Lanka descended into a bitter and prolonged ethnic conflict. Harry Miller, S.J., then almost 60, was thrust into a new role as witness, advocate, intermediary and protector not only for his students but for anyone in Batticaloa who sought his help.
Jeannine GuthrieJanuary 17, 2019
I have found that praying 15 minutes every day is an important form of self-care.
Michael R. Lovell January 16, 2019