This ekphrastic poem is based on Matthew 26:30-35 and Matthew 26:69-75 and the artwork of Keaton Sapp who has installed his fourth piece of the Stations of the Cross Lenten art exhibit. His drawing is titled, “The Denial.” My poem came out as a rhyming triplet in iambic pentameter. (You receive what is given.)
In Keaton’s imagery, he uses the image of a fig leaf to symbolize Christ. You’ll see that imagery also reflected in the image of a fig tree and a fig. In his depiction of the fourth station, Christ is a leaf that is plucked and tossed aside by Peter’s denial. As I reflected on the piece what came out was Peter’s own judgment and the death of his own pride. I share this because that’s what the imagination sometimes does. It speculates and presents options as to meaning. Those options, sometimes go nowhere or can sadly lead us into error. Other times though, the imagination enriches our understanding.
You may listen to me read the poem via the player below.
By the time the rooster crowed, he told me,
A seasoned fisherman from Galilee,
That I would deny him not once, twice, but three.
Me! Always so cocksure confident; I
Said, “Never Lord, I will never deny;
These others might flee, but I’ll never fly!”
I admit I’m often wrong — never in doubt;
When just saying would do, I would shout;
I’d earn, deserve it, not take a handout.
Doubt settles in; I followed him here
Whose entrance on Sunday was praised and cheered;
He’s sheepishly silent before these shearers.
Here, a servant girl looks, notices me,
“You follow that teacher from Galilee!
Tell me true; you are one, you must be.”
“Really, I can’t imagine what you mean.”
When another girl says, “I know I’ve seen
You with the one they call the Nazarene.”
Green, my face pales. How could both
Servant girls know? Question my troth?
“I swear I don’t know him!” I give my oath.
I hear myself speak quick, reflexively,
“I do not know the man,” I say cooly.
“I don’t know him!” and add, “Truely!”
“Surely,” from the crowd another says,
“You’re from Galilee your accent betrays
You must be one those who follows the way.”
“Nay!” (overplayed) I shout, I vow:
“I swear, I told you, let judgment fall now
If I am one of his I don’t know how!”
Now, the third time, I’ll not forget the pain
As I called down a curse, the crowing began
And I stopped. I did not speak again.
And I denied him three times, made a show.
What he knew, I myself would come to know,
When judgment sounded with the rooster’s crow.
So, in th’ end pride plucked me off, pitched me down,
As shame swelled in waves with tears to drown
Broken to pieces, left lying on the ground.
© Randall Edwards 2020.
This poem is for Christ’s church. If it is helpful, please feel free to copy or reprint in church bulletins, read aloud, or repost. I only ask that an attribution be cited to myself (Randall Edwards) and this blog (backwardmutters.com). Thank you.
Artwork: © Keaton Sapp 2020, “The Rooster Crows” Pen and ink. All Rights Reserved.