THIRD SESSION Reflection: John F. Deane

Yam Kinneret: the Harp Music
It is March; in Ireland
daffodils will be suffering the harshest winds; here
the coach had turned back from the slopes of the Beatitudes
towards Tiberias; to the right
the valleys, green and flush,
rising to the hills; to the left, the lake, quietened
in an evening lull and pleasuring;
I settled in my seat, comforted, and tired; when –
and this is my wakeful dream, the happening, the real –
in the coach-seats opposite, father,
fisherman and March-month birthday-boy,
and brother, Declan,
impatient God-lover, picketer by the gates
of San Quentin, celebrant of falling free at last
from alcohol addiction: both of them
in animated conversation, both of them dead
for years, and months; they spoke
in a language without words, song-like, seductive;
outside now, darkness was falling early, the sun
a dying fire, light catching
on the thorn of the moon that was lying idle
in a sapphire-shaded heaven; soon there would be shimmering
silver nightways out across the sea. Father
suddenly called to me, and pointed; the bus
stopped, and we stepped down, we three, only;
silently they walked across the grass, down
towards the shore;
drawn, confused, I followed,
the light so faint now all was shadow,
father, old friend, and faithful, Declan, son and priest;
the old man turned to me, and smiled, “we”, he said, “we
are not in death, we are in life”.
He pointed. There was another
standing near the lake, her back to us, she was watching
out over the water, frail-boned, slight
but firm. “Mother?” I said and she turned,
slowly; I did not know her; fair-skinned,
handsome but not beautiful: “your name?” I asked;
“Miryam”, she said, “Miryam of Magdil. And yours?”
“Johanan”, I answered, to my surprise. Around us
ruins only, excavations, stone-heaps, stumps; Magdil?
“It was here,” she said, “here
stepped ashore from the fishing-boat;
and stood awhile, gazing towards the hills; I
was kneeling, there, by that great rock;
I was gutting fish, for salting; I worried about his feet,
naked against the sharp edges of the shells;
the others, fishermen, moved awkwardly,
hauling the boat ashore, uncertain of themselves;
and ‘who are you?’ I asked him
though I already knew the answer; he
is the way, he is the life, and his truth
will sear both soul and body. And he said, ‘Miryam’,
as if he knew me; ‘if I give,’ he said,
‘word of myself, what can that be to you? Come,
and see.’ And I left fish, and shore, lake and village
and followed him. He is invasion, hero, mystery,
he is the centre, he is forgiveness, light. And now I,” she said,
“am in death no longer, I am in life.” She smiled,
turning back towards the sea;
I glanced for father, brother, but they were
not there and when I turned again, she, too, had disappeared.
I shivered suddenly, alone, and cold; a black-backed gull
perched on the great rock
was stabbing down
at some small feathered thing;
now it was night;
from the road Abram was calling out to me
and I came back, at peace, heavy in flesh, but free :
John F. Deane

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