Up to My Waist

by Jeffrey Essmann

We thought he was a ghost at first,
A water sprite or some such thing
Who from the raging storm outburst
And took the shape of human being.
At any rate, we squealed and squawked
As calmly on the waves he walked.
But then he said, “Be not afraid”
As toward us on the seething sea his way he made.

He further claimed he was the Lord,
Which I found hard to quite construe,
And though I meant nothing untoward,
I said, “If then it’s really you,
Bid me to join you on your stroll
And feel the waves beneath me roll.”
“Come,” then he said and out I climbed
And felt beneath my feet the pathway maritime. 

It beggared surely all belief
As step by step I made my way,
But my assurance came to grief,
And faith fell into disarray.
I blame it on a sudden surge
That with a blast of wind converged:
I felt myself begin to sink
Into the chasm of the Galilean drink. 

The waters at my waist, I cried,
“Lord, save me” and, his hand stretched out,
He pulled me safely to his side.
“Oh man,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
We’d never seen a thing so odd,
So then and there declared him God,
Yet even now I sometimes taste
The waters’ salt and feel them circling my waist.

Jeffrey Essmann is an essayist and poet living in New York. His poetry has appeared in numerous magazines and literary journals, among them Dappled Things, the St. Austin ReviewThe Society of Classical PoetsAmethyst ReviewAgape ReviewAmerica MagazineU.S. Catholic, Heart of Flesh Literary Journal, Edge of FaithPensive, and various venues of the Benedictine monastery with which he is an oblate. He is editor of the Catholic Poetry Room page on the Integrated Catholic Life website.

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