Mannone

The Light in the Room – Poem by John C. Mannone

Capernaum, 30 AD
Peter’s house

Four men shuffle their sandals down the dirt
and camel-dunged road bearing their friend
warped with palsy on stretched, brown cloth.

They press through crowds standing dead
in their way to the mud brick dwelling—doorway
glutted with the sick, windows gasping sultry air.

On the roof, fig trees faint, grapes grovel for cool
moist dirt. Overgrown, the garden guards entrance
to the room beneath a straw-hatched door.

Inside the house, the Healer moves among
the sick, and the frankincense of his garment
breezes the air. Radiance spills from his hem,

a cooling glow dispels fever. Thy cluster near him.
Above, the palsied man, held up by the strong
faith of his friends, waits for his touch—for the Light.

Afflicted eyes clear, cataracts fall like dead scales.
Twisted limbs grow straight as the green shoot
seeking the high sun. Obscure spirits flee.

When he is done well into the middle of night,
he goes to pray in the cool of the garden among
fig trees and vines, now lifting high in his light.

In the mauve of dawn, the fishing village is quiet,
boats bob in the ebb, and black basalt cliffs shadow
nets laying empty after sieving the platinum sea
…but only for a little while.

~~~
Near Capernaum, 2030 AD
Ziv Medical Center (Bar-Ilan University)

A man lies on a gurney, in tremors from paralysis,
waits for the good doctor to touch him with his hands,
with instruments that will bring him some comfort.

His wife and children at his side, the sweet
fragrance of prayer mixes with a hint of sea
masking the sterile wisps of antiseptics.

The physicians, gathered in a small room
before their rounds, quietly praise the Healer,
seek his guidance from a shelf full of books—

Gray’s Anatomy, Principles of Biochemistry by White,
black binders with New England Journal of Medicine,
all stacked on leather of the Torah—the scent

of Jehovah Rapha rising from its pages, faith
incandescing the darkness. The light in the room
is not dim.

___________________________________________________________________
Author’s Note: Inspired by the healing of the man with palsy—a paralysis, especially that which is accompanied by involuntary tremors—in the Bible (Mark 2:1-5). Peter’s house was likely excavated by Italian archeologists (Biblical Archaeology Review 8:6, November/December 1982). Also see Bible History Daily https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-sites-places/biblical-archaeology-sites/the-house-of-peter-the-home-of-jesus-in-capernaum/

John C. Mannone

John C. Mannone has work in Artemis Journal, Poetry South, Blue Fifth Review, New England Journal of Medicine, Peacock Journal, Gyroscope Review, Baltimore Review, Pedestal, Wordgathering: Journal of Disability Poetry and Literature, Poetica: Journal of Contemporary Jewish Writing and others. He’s a Jean Ritchie Fellowship winner in Appalachian literature (2017) and served as Celebrity judge for the National Federation of State Poetry Societies (2018). He has three poetry collections, including Flux Lines (Celtic Cat Publishing) forthcoming in 2018. He’s been nominated for Pushcart, Rhysling, Dwarf Stars and Best of the Net awards. He edits poetry for Abyss & Apex, Silver Blade, and Liquid Imagination. He’s the president of the Chattanooga Writers’ Guild and a retired professor of physics in east TN. http://jcmannone.wordpress.com

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