In Sorrento


At last it nears,

Blurting a funeral march

On clarinet and trombone, wham of drums

Parting the crowd-clogged street,

The Black Procession of Good Friday night:

Four hundred torchlit figures sable-robed,

Hooded, bear the pall

Of Jesus slain. And now the Virgin caped

In mourning comes. In mourning they advance,

Some with reflecting silver trays to hold

Huge crucifixion implements: dice,

A stuffed cock that for Peter might have crowed,

A centurion’s cut-off ear awaiting Christ’s

Order to reattach, red-headed lance

That pierced His side, rope loop to goad

Judas to suicide.

Rules and decrees dissolve, not centuries-old

Ingrained presentiments.

People have heard the edicts of the Pope

Only through half-shut ears

Since long ago he threatened to withhold

The sacraments

From those who found new hope

In the Risorgimento;

But still, eyes glisten as this grim parade

Circles a worn brick plaza lento, lento.

— X.J. Kennedy ’51GSAS