Denial

Thursday, September 12, 2019

He said that he would join the dead
that we humans no more may die.
I believed him! But then he said
that I myself would three times lie

when asked point blank if I knew him.
“No, no, no!” insisted I;
“If the whole Dead Sea I must swim,
you, my Lord, I’ll never deny.”

He looked at me, sort of grinned:
“I know you’re perfect, Peter; ‘Rock.’
I know you’ve never even sinned!
But think twice when you hear the cock.”

He knew me, how I’d prove myself a liar.
They took him (apparently the plan?),
and then night fell. Folks made a fire.
This girl came up and was like “Man,

I saw you with him. Am I right?”
Unthinkingly I just said “Nah.” I mean,
the air was cold, the fire was bright.
I needed to be chill, not “seen”

by some servant girl without a name.
A hubbub broke out—just a small one.
By the light of growing flames
I was accosted by a centurion.

“You’re his disciple?” asked this guy
wearing a helmet with a transverse crest.
He looked me dead in the eye
and cocked his head a bit to the west,

seemed a wee bit cock-a-doodle-doo,
like he’d been hitting the vino
for some time already. “I am a Jew,”
said I, “But a disciple? Me? No.”

He wagged his red crest back and forth
like he didn’t believe me at all.
Unsettled, I left the common hearth,
into the dark, tiptoed along the temple wall.

And though there was no light or noise
and though I never felt my heart harden,
ex nihilo a very sober, earnest voice
said to me, “You were with him in the garden.”

And then I snapped and shouted “No!”
I was heading down a darker road.
“I’ve said it already: I’ve never met the fellow!”
And just like that, a rooster crowed.

• • •
 

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