Pietà / by Jonathan Aprea

I remove the top from the package 
my laptop computer comes in 

which is made out of white matte cardboard 
that fits closely with the box’s other parts. 

It feels good to do it. The computer 
is cradled in a piece of moulded plastic. 

The shiny sleeve that initially 
surrounds the computer to protect it 

and which is meant to be discarded 
is like the section of marble sculpture 

that has been heavily polished 
to convey Christ’s moisture or sweat 

and which signifies the unqualified 
difficulty through which he had labored 

to secure his indicated destruction. 
The sculptor no doubt had his own 

moments of suffering 
as he worked to make this sweat 

express itself in the marble like it does, 
probably feeling closer to the root 

of his work as a result of that feeling. 
And equally for Christ, there was an 

important kernel of beauty 
that bore into the compliant reception 

of the circumstances articulated 
in this sculpture. 

The surrounding box would be the arms 
of his mother. The central signature

across her chest would be an apple. 
The impersonal shape of the box 

and of the computer itself would be 
the facial expressions of both the mother 

and of her son, respectively. 
Their eyes are affectless. If their energy 

was present, it seems to have drained. 
The only emotion you might read in Christ 

is one of acceptance, not of his circumstance 
but of the emotions of a viewer. His face 

is a container, its eyelids clamshell-like, 
and his mother’s, which are slightly open 

as they descends to meet the center 
of her son’s body are less smooth for being open 

and contain more detail. They could be 
unfocused, or focused on her nose’s wide bridge 

in a moment of meditation or prayer. 
It is only with her hand 

that she directs her feelings outwards, 
in an invitation for the viewer to turn back 

to examine himself. As a side note, 
you can no longer touch the actual content 

of this sculpture. After an attempted desecration 
it was placed behind bulletproof glass 

and so even more so than before 
you cannot do more than look at it. 

The sculptor succeeded in foreshortening 
Christ’s body (so that he fits inside 

of the pyramidal constraints of his mother’s 
lap and arms) without compromising 

its quality or realness. 
It is useful to consider the youthfulness 

and beauty of the mother, her equal- 
seeming age to her son. 

Defeated and lifeless, he crumples inward 
while at the same time his neck and head and face 

direct themselves upward 
into the ceiling or the sky, as though at any second, 

the viewer knows, he could burst into light 
and prompt me with instructions. 

Jonathan Aprea is a writer and a photographer living in New York. You can find him on the web at jonathanaprea.com