Now that day was the Sabbath

Haiku by the pool.

In Jerusalem
many invalids, blind, lame,
wait beside the pool.

When the water stirs,
according to tradition,
healing is present.

Portico people
hoping for this lottery
to deliver life.

At the Sheep Gate pool
the lame man lies, unable
to enter in time.

Jesus came, asking
Do you want to be made well?
Did he need to ask?

Stand, he told the man,
Take your mat and take a walk.
That is what he did.

It was the Sabbath
when Jesus made the man well;
most reckless of him.


© Ken Rookes 2019

Now that day was a Sabbath

A haiku sequence

In Jerusalem
by the Sheep Gate; see, a pool
with five porticoes.

Beth-Zatha by name.
There the invalids gather,
waiting for a sign.

When the angel stirs
the water, the race begins;
to claim the healing.

This man cannot walk;
he will never enter first.
He lies there, hoping.

It was a Sabbath
when Jesus came to that place;
breaking all the rules.


© Ken Rookes 2016


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