Death of the Baptist

They brought me word about John that day.

Suddenly I wanted to be away from people,

even those close to me.




For a moment my faith in them wavered.

There they stood, tongue tied,

not knowing what to say to my grief.

And all around them the taint of sin and

death swirled

like the cosmic sickness it was.

I had to get away.

Away from humanity;

Away from the hate

and greed

and pain.

I motioned them out of the boat,

and they understood my need.

I rowed across to the place of rocks

and trees

where no one much ever came.

I rowed hard.

Feeling anger and frustration drain away

into sorrow for that flame of a man

who was my cousin.

There were no questions.

It was the answers that pressed upon me.

The night had touched me

in the zenith of my day

and the gathering storm taunted my spirit.

The oars dug deep into the water

until my arms ached and the muscles

in my back were tight

with the strain.





Lose the burden of divinity

in the ache of humanness.

As I rowed, I anticipated the touch

of the boat on shore,

leg muscles knotting as I dragged

it up the beach

and climbed into the freshness

of that wild place.

No human voice would break the solitude

of bird song and insect humming.

The eagle would soar free above me.

The far shore came in sight.

But it was not the haven of solitude

I had sought.

Running along the shore

and stumbling over the rocks

were the people.

Who told them I was coming here?

How had they found me?

For a moment the sorrow pressed

more heavily

and the humanness of me wanted to turn

and search for a place to grieve alone.

Then, I spied a curly-headed child

struggling to keep up,

his chubby legs churning

as his father drew ahead.

And another, on crutches, in pain,

but doggedly coming to the spot

where the boat would land.

Their need flowed out to meet me.

Their lostness.

Their alienation from themselves,

from one another

and from God.

There would be time to sorrow for John.

But just now was another opportunity

to push the darkness aside;

to give aid to the helpless

and hope to the sorrowing.

The boat touched shore.

Other hands secured it

as I moved into the midst

of those to whom I had been sent.

The little child lifted his arms to be held,

and, scooping him up,

I felt the darkness draining away.

I touched the lame,

the blind.

I drove the demons far away!

I fed their hunger and in the feeding

was nourished.

I healed their infirmities

and in the healing was comforted.

I spoke words of love and hope

and in the speaking was renewed.

I feel you, John!

Your blood cries out to me

from the stones of Herod’s court.

I feel you, John!

I see your face reflected again and again

in these children we were given

to bless.

Oh, my friend!

My brother!

I sorrow for you!

My tears are on their faces.

My hurting is in their hearts.

Goodbye, John.

I’ll see you

in the morning!

c. 2011, Donna Swanson/Splinters of Light


About dswan2

Poet, author, columnist, lyricist, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, wife of 50 years. Born and raised in America's Heartland
This entry was posted in Inspiration and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Death of the Baptist

  1. Jingle says:

    bless your day..

    lovely portrayal of John,

    Happy Potluck!

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