By Robbie Pierce
A poem I wrote about my own mother a few years back. It's based on the account of Peter as found in the Bible.
The clouds finally burst one December night with a phone call,
Lightning travelling along the wires,
Thunder awakening her where she slept,
Tossing and turning
On her flimsy wooden fishing boat,
On the other end of the line
Said he's not coming home
And in a moment the sun was gone from the sky.
Soon the storm was raging,
The depths of hell dumping down from the heights of heaven,
Her delicate head getting heavier with the weight of the cold rain,
The swells trying to toss her off kilter,
Children clinging to her thinning wet housedress,
Apostles huddling in terror,
Ghosts on the waves,
Bills in the mailbox,
No one to steer the ship.
The whole universe waiting for her to face her storm,
Grab the wheel,
But the wheel had come loose,
The rudders were broken,
The ship could not be steered.
"I cannot even save myself!"
She yelled in her prayers at night.
"I cannot weather the storm."
She rocked herself to sleep,
Hugging the cold places on her back where his arms belonged.
The long night dragged on,
Cracks in the boards where the water was forcing itself through,
Where she couldn't keep everything together.
And in the fourth watch of the night,
Sometime in mid-January,
In the center of the pitching waves and the pitch black,
She looked out over the tumultuous sea
And faced her God.
She could barely discern his face
Through the rain and mist and darkness and distance,
But she called out to him.
"Lord, if you are there, please bid me to come to you."
And he said, "Come."
She looked around at her small house,
Two kids to a bed,
And she looked at her empty résumé,
And she looked at her empty cupboards,
And then she peered over the edge of the small boat,
And looked at the murky, stormy water,
And imagined all the eels,
And tentacles down in the sludge.
Finally she looked up at her Lord, who was still beckoning,
And she stepped off her porch
With her briefcase and a sack lunch,
And went to work.
She did it!
She was doing it!
She didn't need to swim.
She could walk all the way.
And she sat behind her desk,
Filing papers and earning money.
But then she knocked a stack of papers off the desktop,
And she bent to pick it up,
And she looked down,
And she saw the swirling sea,
She saw that the wind was boisterous,
That no one would ever love her,
That her children would starve
And she'd never make it on her own.
She was afraid.
She started to sink,
Up to her neck in bills,
Over her head with raising a family,
Drowning in cold turbulent loneliness.
With her last breath she gasped,
"Lord, save me!"
Jesus dived into the water,
Sank into the sadness with her,
Stretched forth his hand,
And caught her.
Wet, and shivering,
Tangled in seaweed,
He pulled her onto the boat,
Wrapped her in a towel,
And hugged her to let her know she was safe,
His arms warming her back.
He closed his eyes,
The clouds parted,
The wind ceased,
The boat stood still,
The bills were paid,
The children were fed,
And the spots of longing on her back had vanished.
When the sun came out,
Pouring golden light on the gray sea,
And she was made perfectly whole,
Jesus left her side.
She stood again,
Went to the edge of the boat,
Looked out across the gentle waves,
And whispered over her placid sea,
"Thank you, Lord, for rescuing me.
Please help me learn how to walk back to you on my own."
She got out of bed, got ready,
And went to work again
With a prayer in her heart.