The Cripple Makes a Wish
It didn’t happen in the way that other
folks will have you think: a flash of light,
a giant earthquake rumbling through your bones.
I simply did what I was told and rose
like leavened bread out of the useless husk.
The healer’s face, lit from within, had smiled.
“Take heart, my son,” he told me. “Your sins
are washed away; pick up your bed and walk.”
And there I stood, on two strong legs, with arms
that until then, I’d lived my life without.
A woman fainted. I began to sway
when both my brothers caught me by my shoulders,
the two of them like planted wooden stakes
that train new stems upward. I turned and left
amidst the naked stares that startled me,
pious praise, tinged with a shade of fear.
And things were never quite the same again.
Before the Nazarene had come to town,
people used to ask me if I wished
that I had fingers, if I ever dreamed
of running. “Does a lizard wish to fly,”
I said, “Do tadpoles dream of feathered wings?”
And like a wingless, earth-bound beast,
I’m ill-prepared for this strange flight—
would gladly trade these heavy limbs
to be carried to the river when the white
hot peak of day has passed, and left,
to drift up off my cot; lifted by the gentle
current like a single gilded leaf,
cradled in its mighty, rippled palm.