Capernaum

Capernaum
—The disciples went out and got into a boat, but all night they caught nothing. John 21:3
    by Dan Behrens

Seaside village,
Capernaum,
With her growing garrison
Of Herodian troops,

Eclectic Commercialites
And native fishermen,
An agrarian trade post
Along the way of the Sea,

Or the Samaritan’s pilgrimage
Toward Mount Gerizim.
Then there are her streets
And all her Galilean children—

A James, a John, Thomas
And the custom’s chief,
The house of Peter—
and at least one other,

Brothers, turn to her boats
Like their fathers did
At daybreak, and push out
Away from all the shores

That crush them. Their rigging
Pitched portside, their tears
Netting nothing but silence
And a splash of stars

Hardly hanging on overhead.
These few small boats 
Drifting into the arc
Of some forgotten story.

All her forgotten stories
Of feasts and family,
Of sabbath prayers and miracles,
Her screaming crowds,

Her silent sufferer—Jesus.
Capernaum, so light and lost
Among the nations, a lonely lamb
At the edge of the earth,

Or the sea rather, or perhaps
Even those distant hills
Where the swine fell
Just beyond your reach.

Or like when our sweet Saint
Peter fell at the sight of waves,
His one wild step
Into everlasting life,

Cut free—
for one mere moment at least—
From all these boats
We so eagerly turn to.
 

Flight, Kate

Flight, Kate
    by Dan Behrens 

Hallway's a runway,
A glidepath
For my one-year-old’s
Roundtrip
From kitchen to closet.
Little legs, little mind
All wound up
For attention. Revolution—
Down and back
And down again.
Her laugh as loud as liftoff.
So small a world
She and I
A never-ending flight.
On social media @danieljbehrens
On social media @danieljbehrens

Patio Pavers

Patio Pavers
   by Dan Behrens
   
More cinder than stone,
Four dozen patio pavers
Lay behind our tool shed,
Misplaced, abandoned,
Exposed and melting away
Under the long linger of rain—
This heap of garden bricks
That once hedged off roses,
Retained a lofted green bed,
Perhaps encircled a school of Koi
Or encamped evening fires
For a family who lived here.
   
Now unearthed,
I scrape, wash, and stack
These moss-coated slabs
Erect as an Incan altar
Beside our broken gate,
Like something conjured
Out of the womb of earth,
A small tower of fidelity
I’ll later use to reset
The sagging porch,
A near nod to whomever
Kept this yard before me—
Her hands. His dirt. Their Eden.
   
This evening, I’ll cut the grass,
Gathering Lilac clippings,
Toss some fertilizer
And set upon these neglected stones
To help us turn the corner,
To hear again the ancient utterance
Of new birth, the miraculous
Marriage of symmetry and chaos,
Like Babel's tower in her infancy
Before the scattering and the falling apart,
Before our creative language severed,
Our sacred union wedged
To the far reaches of earth.
   

The Release of St Peter

The Release of St Peter
            —Acts 12:6-19
   by Dan Behrens
   
There is that story
among all the Acts
of the apostles,
where the house of Mary
is itself a house of prayer—
a lighted city
above the valley of the world.
Fervent believers praying inside
fervently praying, believing,
while outside in the street
new men find themselves
walking about.
New men. Free men.
Unrecognizable men
under the dark of night,
under the arm of the empire,
under the Spirit of God.
Still, how little is made
of that servant girl Rhoda,
and all that was accomplished
through her at the gate—
this magnanimous release of St Peter,
and the train of the church
thundering through the ages.