Poem: Dancing on Water

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Dancing on Water

A storm blows in from the east. You can smell the rain. 

In an hour or less, it will be here
and unpredictability will reign. The seas will roil
and flotsam, so well hidden by the water
will be tossed on the beach like ragdolls.
And the driftwood around you, dry
from yesterday’s sun, will drift once again.
The landscape will change.

It has been a season of storms,
the kind of storms that rattle windows
and leaves behind damage, ripping at roofs,
tearing away foundations, unrelenting, terrible storms,
one after another. You have survived them all,
but just barely, your faith and those you love,
have not let you flail for more than a moment,
when the winds were at their worst.
Your landscape has changed. And changed again.

The earth is a solid thing, so they say, but
that has not been your experience.
It is a wild thing, uncontrollable, a raging mix
of beauty and betrayal, a seething sea of madness,
waiting for the next wave, the next gust of wind
to tear at you and test you and see
whether you hold fast or fall, A test
of your ability to not walk, but dance on the water.

About this poem

In the New Testament of the Christian Bible, there is a story of Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples, who in order to prove his faith, stepped into the raging seas and show that his faith was so strong that like Christ, he could cross the surface of the water. He took one step, and his faith failed him and Christ had to reach out and save him from drowning. Some people see that episode as a failure, but I have always felt it was a raging success. He walked on water! Even if only for a moment.

The original title of this poem was to be “The Lost Year”, referring to the year of sickness and struggle I have fought through, with the added time of quarantine and coronavirus we have all been through. Most of the plans I had for the year are lost. It was to be a lament.

But if there is one thing I have learned in forty years of writing poems, it is that the muse often has other ideas, and it turned into a poem of gratitude for a faith and people who have loved me through this year. I may not be dancing on water yet, but I have come close.

Be well. Travel wisely,

Tom

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