The Feet Manfrom Sweet Jesus: Poems About the Ultimate Icon (ed. Nick Carbó and Denise Duhamel) p. 5-6.
-for Leo Dangel
by Philip Dacey
The worst job I ever had was nailing
Jesus' feet to the cross on the
assembly line at the crucifix factory.
Jesus! I'd never thought of myself
as religious before that, but when
I had to strike those nails---I figured
it up once---more than two thousand times
a day, my mind began seeing things:
little tremors along the skin, jerks of
those legs that were bonier than
model's legs, his eyes imploring,
forgiving. I swear, if a tiny drop of blood
had oozed out of that wood at my pounding,
I wouldn't have been surprised at all.
I was ripe for a miracle, or a vacation,
All I got was worse: with each blow
of the hammer, I flinched, as if I
were the one getting pierced. Doing
that job day after day was bad enough,
but doing it to myself---my arms
spread out from one end of my paycheck
to the other---was crazy. I began
to sweat constantly, though the place
was air-conditioned. It wasn't long before
the foreman took me aside and told me
I was taking my job too seriously, that
if I wanted to keep it I had better calm down.
He was right. I pulled myself together
like a man and put all pointless thoughts
out of my head. Or tried to. It wasn't easy:
imagine Jesus after Jesus coming down
at you along the line, and you with
your hammer poised, you knowing
what you have to do to make a living.
The opening of this poem is just amazing. The break between the second and third lines especially. I was less moved by the middle, but the end wonderfully brings it back to what I had so loved at the beginning.