Carol Ann Duffy

Pilate’s Wife

Firstly, his hands - a woman's. Softer than mine,  
with pearly nails, like shells from Galilee. 
Indolent hands. Camp hands that clapped for grapes.  
Their pale, mothy touch made me flinch. Pontius. 
I longed for Rome, home, someone else. When the Nazarene  
entered Jerusalem, my maid and I crept out, 
bored stiff, disguised, and joined the frenzied crowd. 
I tripped, clutched the bridle of an ass, looked up 
and there he was. His face? Ugly. Talented. 
He looked at me. I mean he looked at me. My God. 
His eyes were eyes to die for. Then he was gone, 
his rough men shouldering a pathway to the gates. 
The night before his trial, I dreamt of him. 
His brown hands touched me. Then it hurt. 
Then blood. I saw that each tough palm was skewered 
by a nail. I woke up, sweating, sexual, terrified. 
Leave him alone. I sent a warning note, then quickly dressed.  
When I arrived, the Nazarene was crowned with thorns. 
The crowd was baying for Barabbas. Pilate saw me, 
looked away, then carefully turned up his sleeves 
and slowly washed his useless, perfumed hands. 
They seized the prophet then and dragged him out, 
up to the Place of Skulls. My maid knows all the rest. 
Was he God? Of course not. Pilate believed he was.