To Bear His Cross by Dan Brady


This poem was originally titled “Sneezin’ Jesus.” I was trying to write poems based on the strongest memories from each year of my life. Something like this happened to me in grade school, but not exactly this. I was the innkeeper in the Nativity Play, not Jesus in the Passion Play. It’s funny how in our memories our role in events is always outsized.

People still remember my Jesus

in the Easter Passion Play

at St. Patrick’s Elementary School

in 1993. To play Jesus was an honor

for a geeky, asthmatic neophyte.

On Good Friday, they dragged

the costumes out of storage

untouched since last year. 

The centurions immaculate

in their shining armor. 

The dusty robes of the Pharisees

were fit with legalist perfection.

My robes, also dusty,

a bit scratchy. My nose

also a bit scratchy. 

We processed

from station to station,

suffering as He suffered.

My allergies, suffering.

Did no one wash these

things? Is this a new 

kind of incense?

I sneezed, unnoticed

at first. But then,

after three or four

sneezes, the snickering

started. By the time

Veronica wiped my face,

really my nose,

with the Shroud of Turin,

the parishioners laughed

at every uncontrollable

nasal exertion.

I ended with my famous lines.

“Father, forgive them.

They know not what they do.”

And in response, I heard 

a choir of angels: 

God bless you.

God bless you.

God bless you.

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