Healing and hope

Haiku for desperate people

On the other side
of the lake, a crowd gathered;,
eager for his word.

A desperate dad,
synagogue leader Jairus,
fell at Jesus’ feet.

Begs for his daughter,
She’s dying, come and touch her
with your healing hands.

A woman is there,
bleeding, unclean for twelve years;
doctors have not helped.

She comes quietly,
feeling shame at her illness;
touches his clothing.

Immediately
her flow of blood ends. What joy!
she knows she is healed.

He somehow feels it,
asks who it was who touched him
as the crowd presses.

In fear and trembling
she falls before him. Daughter,
be healed, go in peace.

He has been delayed;
reports are brought of the girl.
No point in coming.

She’s not dead, he says,
just sleeping. They scoff and laugh.
He goes to the house.

He takes the girls hand,
(She was all of twelve years old),
Little girl, get up!

What wonder is this?
He speaks and his words bring life;
this is the gospel!

© Ken Rookes 2018

 

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Even the dogs

Weary from the crowds,
he slipped across the border for a break.
A holiday with a few close friends,
up north among the foreigners.
Different people, culture, food.
Best of all, no one knows him here.

The woman’s love
has grown achingly to despair;
such is her daughter’s illness.
Her dormant hopes quicken
when she learns the identity
of the stranger from the south.

Disregarding his request for privacy,
she intrudes, insisting that he intervene
to heal her child.
His response disappoints.
Wrong race, wrong religion.

The man offers a domestic metaphor to justify
his lack of compassion.
Sorry, I can’t help;
the food is for the children, not the dogs.

It takes our breath away.
Suddenly we hear the shrill, cheering voices
of the xenophobes, islamophobes, flag wearers,
shock jocks and opportunistic politicians.

But the story continues;
this foreign woman does not know her place.
She accepts the racial calumny,
but, with impertinence,
throws the image back at the teacher:
Yes, but even the dogs . . .

Even the dogs.
The woman, he concedes, is correct.
There are no boundaries to love
except the ones we fashion from our fears.
The man accepts his lesson with grace,
and setting aside his weariness,
offers her the crumb.

 

© Ken Rookes 2017

Nothing I can do

Haiku of learning

Wrong race and wrong creed.
The man puts the woman off
when she asks for help.

Nothing I can do;
the food is for the children,
it’s not for the dogs.

That is so, she says,
but even dogs may consume
table scraps that fall.

Good point, says Jesus,
You got me! Your faith is strong;
your daughter is healed.

 

© Ken Rookes 2017

A woman and a girl

For the woman,
twelve years of suffering,
the physical distress of her bleeding
matched only by its consequent social exclusion.
(She is ritually unclean, and will remain so
while ever her haemorrhage goes unchecked).
For the girl, according to the fears of her father,
twelve years of living are about to be concluded,
just when her life should be beginning.

Except that the girl doesn’t die;
the woman, too, is healed by the teacher.
Connected only by a narrative
and the same span of years,
each is restored, in her own way,
to life, family and community.
This, according to gospel writer, Mark,
is what Jesus, the one sent from above,
does.

© Ken Rookes 2015

Another  poem on this story can be found here. And also here.

Why trouble the teacher?

 

With his opening line

the distraught father, one Jairus by name,

grabs the teacher’s attention.

Finishing the sentence,

he claims his sympathy:

“My little daughter

is at the point of death.”

 

Jairus and his nameless wife

are distraught at the prospect

of losing their beloved child;

they will not lightly let her go.

Tears and wailing are not enough

to bind her to them, nor the embrace

of their arms, nor even their love,

to tether to earth her soul.

The well-respected leader of the synagogue

does not hesitate to sacrifice his dignity

upon hope’s altar.

Begging on his knees, he risks

offending his colleagues

as he pleads for help

from the alleged blasphemer.

 

Perhaps the unnamed girl

was particularly diminutive,

or else her father used the adjective

to indicate his affection.

By her given age the girl

was no more than a year, or thereabouts,

short of that which might have seen

her betrothal.

At twelve years old,

her parents know well,

that the time is not far away

from the good letting-go. For now

they will brave the derision

and take their chances

with the teacher.

 

© Ken Rookes 2012