᾿Επὶ Πάτμῳ

Recalling distance, some things don’t diminish
In time… It’s seventy-seven years ago –
We’re watching dawn pronounce its indigo
On eagle’s wing. The scent of cooking fish
Still wafts across the water. Coals still glow
Along the shore, a waiting fire. His flesh –
(Baptismal ink confirms the heavy splash)
Took water’s height, his spirit’s depth. And so
The word and act united, deed and wish
Were met with sand, impetuous to know
What news. The rest of us would pull at oar and row
The haul to him, now waiting, dripping, foolish.
But bravely! Oil, the scalding cauldron’s pleasure,
Recalls how rock survives the water’s measure.

Comments

  1. A very nice poem, despite one or two punctuation errors. A couple of things I didn’t understand, perhaps because I’m tired, and I found the sum quite difficult.

    And who’s the painting by? I’m not sure I like it as much as the others, perhaps there’ve been too many, and there’s too much going on in this. Is it Tintoretto, I thought I liked him; I like the top left hand corner.

    • I believe there ought not be a comma after “him” in line 12, but other than that, I believe the punctuation is good as it stands.

      (CB, that might be the cause of your confusion: “him” – not “Him” being the pontifical swimmer…)

      JOB

  2. Cubeland Mystic says

    Hi JOB

    But bravely! Oil, the scalding cauldron’s pleasure,
    Recalls how rock survives the water’s measure.

    Question. If rock survives the water’s measure, then how were we met with sand, impetuous to know?

    • CB,

      The sand is involved in a little not so clever pun – as in “he’s got sand” to speak of bravery. The literal level: once Peter came to land, he probably got the sand between his toes (although John 21 says he still had his coat on – presumably to indicate that he acted in his office and not as the same ol’ Peter the Petulant we see prior to the resurrection.)

      I always liked this scene – it indicates (my private interpretation but I’d love to see some backing from the Church Fathers) the role of scripture (John first recognizes and pronounces that it is in fact Christ on shore) and of the magisterium (Peter is the first to interpret what ought to be done with John’s revelation) and so, the “trick” of the verse is that John, who first pronounced, now as a member of the Body puts his own body to the regulum that Peter provided – diving, literally, headfirst into greeting the Lord, and leading the way for his bark to follow. So John, preparing for his living martyrdom…

      Of course, as a side note: we ought to thank Peter in our prayers that he didn’t wait for collegiality to kick in… Twiddling his pontifical thumbs until this or that biblical commission verified that John was the one who first pronounced the sighting of the Lord on shore – and then hang fire as the various episcopal conferences reinterpreted John’s words in light of a pastoral letter they felt compelled to write on unilateral trebochet disarmament by the Romans, and that Peter didn’t finger tap the mainmast impatiently as they translated his words into the lingua of the locals, so as not to offend or “speak above” them. By the time, of course, he jumped into the water, the coals would have gone out and the fish gone cold…

      Put simply, there’s just a thing a pope’s got to do on his own sometimes.

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