On the Ongoing Insistence on Proof – a poem by Ben Groner III

On the Ongoing Insistence on Proof

I’d seen the painting before. As I stood in front
of Caravaggio’s The Incredulity of Saint Thomas,

I again took note of the glow bathing the figures
from just outside the left edge, and the ambiguous,

black background; the lack of a halo above Jesus’
head and the solidness of his flesh; the two other

disciples craning to get a better look; the hunched-
over Thomas receiving exactly what he demanded,

his forefinger knuckle-deep in his friend’s side,
feeling the warm tissue between his ribs. Thomas’s

other hand clutches his own side, as if the Roman spear
pierced him too, the wrinkles in his forehead undulating

into sandy dunes of shock, regret, astonishment, elation,
wonder; his wide eyes staring past Jesus, thinking some
unknown thought—

……………………….I stepped back. It was quite a moving scene,
……………………….really. Though I doubt it ever happened.

I suppose Thomas claimed he needed to use his fingers
as the nails and spearhead before belief, and who

can blame him? After all, the hill had been so far off,
his palms pressed to his eyes; he couldn’t be sure of

anything he’d seen that day. Remarkable though,
how swiftly those thunderheads had dissolved, how

his friend is standing before him now—never mind
the locked door—with color in his cheeks and breath

in his lungs, gesturing, while sunbeams scud across
the dusty floor, shouting with light, inching ever closer.


Ben Groner III (Nashville, TN), recipient of Texas A&M University’s 2014 Gordone Award for undergraduate poetry and a Pushcart Prize nomination, has work published in Appalachian Heritage, New Mexico Review, Third Wednesday, Gnarled Oak, The Bookends Review, Gravel, and elsewhere. You can see more of his work at bengroner.com/creative-writing/

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