Jacques Rancourt

Near The Sheep Gate

                                                           John 5:1-4

Many things
!25!I’ve reconsidered:
the snail’s remarkable

!25!trail, the two slugs
slung around each
!25!other, organs

exposed & hanging
!25! from an outdoor
lamp. Because we live

!25!in the easy century,
today we say
!25!our wedding vows

& at night, the heat
!25!drops, lunar patterns,
dark on dark, the cold

!25!stars breaking
like conversation.
!25!But had we been

born twenty years
!25!back, we might be
counted among

!25!the dead. Would I
have kept by your
!25!side, faithful

as night, while you dwindled
!25!into bed sheets?
In Jerusalem, near

!25!the Sheep Gate,
was a bathhouse
!25!where the lepers

lined a pool
!25!that an angel
of the Lord stirred

!25!once a day,
& the first submerged
!25!was healed

of whatever disease
!25!he had. Child
that I was,

!25!I once believed
faith was a place
!25!I lived inside

myself where the prayers
!25!for the sick did not
become prayers

!25!for the dead. Where
all could be dipped
!25!to be cured,

!25!made new. Where
the pool is cool,

!25!not warm;
dark, not incandescent;
!25!thrashed & cut

through like a sash
!25!by a man standing
naked in the center.