John 5:1-9

They say that when the angel
messenger from God
disturbs the water in the pool
the healing comes.
The odds are long for a cripple;
for nearly forty years I waited,
coming daily more from habit than hope.
Flawed comrades, we sprawled,
stiff-limbed, twisted.
We swapped yarns; pushing time
around our plates like an double serving
of an unwelcome vegetable.
We waited for a swirl or ripple;
the word to start the race.
Salvation: the prize for the fortunate few
who make the splash
ahead of their companions.

In many despairing interludes
I would ponder the cruel lottery
that God plays with the wretched.
The pool was a long shot,
but we knew no other game;
my place was among the desperate,
waiting my turn to throw the dice.
Struggling alone, I sometimes got wet,
but never healed.

On that Sabbath day,
when the Galilean showed up,
asking his questions
and breaking the rules, 
he troubled more than a pool of water.
There he was, offering odds
to cheer the heart of any mug punter. 
I looked up, hardly daring to believe,
did my sums, knew I couldn’t lose;
and walked.

© Ken Rookes


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