From a Long Line of Trees by John C. Mannone

From a Long Line of Trees

My brothers—one shaped into chariot wheels, the other, into an expansive bed for a king—had it good. I’ve been rough-cut and split into two. God knows where I am being taken to now. My leg drags through camel dung, my arms straddle a broad-shouldered peasant cloaked in dirt-brown tatters. Sweat on his brow. A noisy crowd follows me to a barren hill outside of town. They throw me to the ground; lash a man to me, whose face is so marred I cannot tell who he is, but thorns crowning his head scratch me. I feel his blood. Lots of blood as the Romans nail his flesh to mine; hoist us high as one—each of us a cross to bear the other’s weight. It grieves me to hurt this man who won’t speak one word of guile as he hangs broken; I am washed in his blood. After many hours, he struggles to speak…It is finished.

When I hear those words, I recall my father’s story still resounding through the ages. My father, when he cradled a most precious baby, spoke of a gentle old carpenter from Nazareth, who had fashioned a manger from the same stock that I came from—strong acacia wood planed smooth until soft enough for the king of kings. When the carpenter was done, he cried out with great pride to his wife, Mary, Bring me our son. It is finished. It is finished… It is finished!

John C. Mannone is the contributing editor to ADRpoetry and has poems in The Windhover, North Dakota Quarterly, Poetry South, Baltimore Review, and others. He won the Impressions of Appalachia Creative Arts Contest in poetry (2020), the Carol Oen Memorial Fiction Prize (2020), and the Joy Margrave Award (2015, 2017) for creative nonfiction. He was awarded a Jean Ritchie Fellowship (2017) in Appalachian literature and served as the celebrity judge for the National Federation of State Poetry Societies (2018). His full-length collections are Disabled Monsters (Linnet’s Wings Press, 2015), Flux Lines: The Intersection of Science, Love, and Poetry (Linnet’s Wings Press, 2021), Sacred Flute (Iris Press, 2022), and Song of the Mountains (Middle Creek Publishing, 2023). He also edits poetry for Abyss & Apex, Silver Blade, and Liquid Imagination. A retired physics professor, John lives in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Editor’s Comment and Image Credit: An acacia tree in a Kenyon sunset [wallpaperflare] and silhouettes of crosses [pngwing] are combined for spiritual symbolic effects.