Continuing to pray with the seven last words of Christ. On this Good Friday, the fifth word: “I am thirsty.” (John 19:28)

At the last: a most human need.
For all of the times you had poured out wine
and provided a miraculous feast,
now at the end you thirsted.

Can I replenish you, the Christ?
As your life wanes, is there anything I can do?
The best I have is sour wine & a sponge,
not even a proper cup.

And if I could, at this moment,
return the favor of spreading an abundant table,
what purpose would it serve? You are dying.
Thirst is the lesser pain to ease.

Still, let me run for more wine!
Give me purpose, urgency, a grocery list and task, I plea,
so that I have a reason to avoid this bitter scene.
Your thirst gives me something to do…

…which reveals what I cannot face
at the foot of the cross: death and uselessness.
We have endowed your death with function and meaning,
trying to save our own from futility.

But there it is:
my own futility, in lengthening shadows;
my uselessness, on the end of a hyssop branch;
your need, unsatisfied at the last.

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