A Reckoning at Eventide

[This poem arose from a meditation on today's scripture reading concerning John the Baptist. I wondered what he might have heard or done after a day waist-deep in the Jordan. The poem points toward contrition - an important facet of Advent.]

The sun was dying away
they had all gone by then
my day's work done
the water stilled.
I shook myself dry
a final time,
that's when the rocks
awoke with echoes
they'd pocketed all day -
repent, repent, repent.
Another man might think
himself crazy in that moment
but not me, not the baptizer.

I knew.
I knew of my anger flashed
at the whoring husband
who will never change.
I knew of my breathless disgust
at the shrewd lover of mammon
as he confessed for spectacle.
I knew of my lust stirred low
when she rose from the water,
yes I am a man.
I knew of my envy as I
watched them leave my wilderness for
settings of silver and beds of ease.
I knew of what shone as indignation
for that brood of vipers but
was actually my venom of hate.
I knew of what I am foremost.
I knew.

So I turned, like a dog to vomit,
stripped myself bare and broke the surface
scrubbing my weathered skin
pink then blood-red,
a reckoning at eventide.
And the stones,
the stones finally slept.


  1. Pounce2:41 AM

    "Salt Water is my therapy of choice" ~ TBS

  2. Pounce1:30 PM

    another thought...

    think of a preacher preaching to a congregation then once everyone is gone he goes back and preaches to himself...no matter how much preaching or in the "poem's" case scrubbing/baptizing there is nothing any one of us can do to cleanse ourselves....this reminded me of the time i went and picked up trash next to our church building, no matter how much i picked up there was still bits of trash there ...at that time i pondered the reality of what God was showing me....only He can cleanse us through our confession of sins and profession of faith...i think this "poem" is putting words in John the Baptist's mouth, which in essence is adding words to the Message which in my opinion is wrong.

  3. Pounce,
    Imaginative reading into the text is something I do often, trying to flesh and bone the characters, its merely what I see/hear/feel...I'm sure the poem says more about me than John the Baptist...I saw him spending the days helping others get 'clean' and then, at day's end, realizing he was in need as much, if not more, than they.

    Thanks for your thoughts...