We found him on a hillside, alone.
Somehow, I haven’t a clue,
He lost himself in the crowds,
That feeding frenzy of agonizing hope.
The others told me the stories,
What he had done at Cana
With the wine and the Roman boy,
His words to Nazareth’s rabbinim.
But I would still not believe,
Had I not seen with my own eyes,
What he has done this day–
What he did for your mother.
I’m not sure I’m ready for this.
I used to please you so easily–
Fistfuls of weeds were boquets,
Scrawls on a slate sonnets,
My first catch a blessed feast.
But soon after I became your man
My best was no longer good enough.
Now when I return, I see it in your eyes:
Another day, another disappointment.
Can I tell you what I feel?
I saw the way you looked at him.
She rose from your bed, healed–
And she wasn’t just grateful,
She wasn’t just fever-free.
She was enamored. I saw it in her eyes:
This is a man worthy of my daughter.
You would have done anything for him.
You honored him without reserve.
Yes, I speak blasphemy.
This is how I want you to look at me.
This is the respect I want in my own home.
I want to do the things he does–
I want that kind of power, and more.
I want the throngs pressing,
That look in their eyes,
My name on their lips,
Awe and reverence in their hearts.
Dare I say it? To be worshiped.
But that isn’t me. It’s him.
And what does he do? Slips away, hides.
When we found him– Yes, I begged his return.
He just looked at me, and smiled.
I don’t understand
He’s lost me
I’ve lost you
Peter’s reaction to the healing of his mother-in-law at his house, and Jesus withdrawal from the town in the wake of his subsequent celebrity.
Wow, Greg…I’ve never read anything like that before. I love it. There must have been so many things they thought and felt that we have no idea about… I’m going to have to go look up the others since you posted that this was “another” Peter poem. I need to subscribe here too…it occurred to me a couple of days ago that I hadn’t actually subscribed, and what have I been missing all this time? (I almost never subscribe to blogs, but yours will be the second) Thanks for your deep thinking on things we so often skim over. It’s a privilege to think this way along side you.
Thanks for the feedback, Melinda. I’m a few months now into my “Peter Project,” and it’s taking me to some very unexpected places — which is, of course, the point. Here, my first connection was, based on my own personal experiences, Peter’s role as a son / son-in-law being challenged. But as I was working on this over a period of weeks, I realized that, even though she isn’t mentioned at all in the biblical narrative, Peter’s WIFE is the real key player in the story. Making the transition between personal reactions to Scripture passages and getting at Peter’s POV is pretty challenging. I’ve added the blog RSS feeds in the sidebar.
The 4th and 5th full stanzas and the single lines that flank them are lovely. They carry the meaning of the poem for me, and I’m not sure why. It has a very spoken (almost theatrical) quality that I like a lot.
It’s interesting that you should focus on those lines, Josie. I had a complete POV shift while working on those stanzas, which were written “to” an entirely different person in the first draft. But while I was reworking this section, I realized that the object of Peter’s words was completely different than I had “intended”… and the piece kind of took on a life of its own from there.
Yes, I intuited the POV shift because this is at least the third time I’ve seen its effects in your writing (the first was prose). It refracts perspective in interesting ways and my closest approximation is visual instead of textual, but it’s sort of Cubist. I’m sure those joints are one reason the poem reminds me of a play, with thoughts in different voices. But the idea that unworthiness before Christ would be rooted in feelings of inadequacy as a husband (vs. the other way round) is unabashedly human and unvarnished- yet novel. Those lines might be its core so *that’s* probably why they leap out for me.
Ah — a cubist influence in my writing. I hadn’t consciously thought of it that way, but yes: I think I instinctively lean that way, with perspective shifts internal to the structure.
You do seem to have a pattern of revising who’s being addressed or the ‘person’ lines are spoken in, as an integral part of your writing process. I like its effects. Thanks for the reply!
With the simple language of a common fisherman, this poem explores just how much Peter was caught up in himself. To feel threatened by Jesus’ presence and power rather than rejoicing over the miracle? How many times a day do WE do that? Am I threatened by Jesus some way? Or perhaps threatened by someone else in the same way?
This is a beautiful poem, exploring the tormented life of a man whose identity was not entirely “follower of Christ” yet–that identity went unrealized until Pentecost.
Men do indeed respond to so much of the world as “threat.” It’s so much a part of the way we think. As I read and reread the different accounts of the event with Peter’s mother-in-law, I just kept feeling, “There’s something missing here. There’s an undercurrent that’s a betrayal of some kind.” Because Peter’s reaction isn’t recorded — and his wife is completely missing. I initially also just wrote Peter’s wife out of the equation… and then when revising, it clicked! Peter was writing her out of the equation, too. But we know from the epistles that she’s there with him later on. So what happened? How did the two of them respond to Jesus and his ministry? A lot extrapolation, of course, but Peter is on a very interesting journey.