John in Prison
The cold stone walls, the slime that grew there, the hard floor, the rags
of rags. His skin red and rough and raw.
He knew it wasn’t going to heal. Not this time.
Way up high, a grate and sometimes a ray of sunlight or
a breath of wind. Dreams of the desert, its cold nights, its
burning sand, endless thirst. Sweetness of honey.
Seeing it all again. They had come. They had repented.
Fathers, sons, daughters, mothers. He remembered
their eyes or their hands, or a tentative foot toeing the water.
Some rising up from the Jordan’s wild and living water with laughter,
some with tears. Some very still, eyes looking around, wet hands gently
touching those that had brought them.
They had been there when his cousin had come and when he had risen
From the water, the glorious stillness – the moment the world seemed
to stop its orbit. Just a moment. Had he merely imagined?
Had it all been for nothing? Imprisoned now, destined for death,
was he merely a fool all along, such vanity, such pride? And nearly too late
the word of what his cousin was doing, of what was seen and heard.
And his dreams turned from the desert to the river.
Each night, swimming in the Jordon, swimming underwater.
Each night a new baptism, as he swam with the fish.