The Pool of Bethsaida*


It’s not surprising he surmised

the mass of mangled disenfranchised

believed the bubbles of Bethsaida

healed every gastric pain,

even sewed back broken

bones stronger than before.


Barefoot as a summer school boy

deep in woods west of town

searching Saturday excitement

strolling down a thicket hollow

calves against the underbrush

along a clear quiet creek

he had first stumbled on

the icy spring where life began

and sand fines puffed up rainbow

sparks cresting on the surface

like a thousand floating billows

of kaleidoscopic grace.


When he plunged his fingers

in the swirling silver chrism

he thought he felt the power of Yahweh

shiver through his marrow like a fire.


Now it ricocheted like lightning

from his throat through his lips

toward the castoff derelict

languishing in purgatory

thirty-eight long years:

‘Take up your mat and walk again.’


He did, and Jesus slipped away

unnoticed, eschewing the commotion

relishing the magic moment

barely hiding in his eyes

the warming waves of ecstasy

welling up inside.


Jerome L. McElroy



   *Accepted Xavier Review (September 2008)