This week’s poem in the Catholic Poetry Room is by Mark D. Bennion
Christ Healing the Sick at Bethesda
[after Carl Bloch’s painting]
His head turns in curiosity
and captivity. A fighter long exhausted,
flirting still with envy and submission.
No white towel here, though,
just a red cap to pull the viewer’s eye
and claim the heart. He turns
to stretch his neck, see if the wounded
under the tarp or anyone else
will reach the water before him.
Unlike so many other figures,
his eyes follow the viewer’s
right and left or into a corner,
yet there’s a schmeer of backstory,
how he never married, how he couldn’t
stop stuttering. He bounced
from job to job and then from lapse
to lapse, eventually moving from pool
to pool. Each time aching
for the water’s edge
but getting bowled over, turned away,
deemed traitor, robber, thief
Afterward, he tried to keep
his mouth shut.
He’s the lame man’s
brother, without tears, without hope,
continuing through the maze
of the tongue’s tremors.
I can feel the numbness
in his teeth and knees
and know some wind
or someone in his behalf
will tap my shoulder each time
I walk away, his cataractous eyes
trail me long after I return home
and into my own warm bathwater.
Without words he speaks.
Since 2000, Mark D. Bennion has taught writing and literature courses at Brigham Young University-Idaho. He enjoys trying to help his students become better disciples of Christ and diligent scholars. A Pushcart Prize nominee, Mark has had his work appear in The Cresset, Dappled Things, The Lyric, Spiritus, and Windhover. Last year, Resource Publications published his book Beneath the Falls: poems. Mark and his wife, Kristine, are the parents of four daughters and one son.