Mount of Olives: a poem

I have been writing poems since the age of nine. Moreover, as an English literature major and creative writer, I composed many, many poems. Heretofore I have kept these under wrap, but starting today I will publish some of the best (at least in my judgment). I have no illusions about my ability as a poet, so these are simply literary experiments, nothing more.

Mount of Olives


Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. — John 18:10a

What the historian forgets to mention—perhaps out of embarrassment—is that Simon Peter never aimed for the ear. His mind, as impetuous as ever, would never have settled for a wedge of cartilage or even a dangling digit. In that darkest of nights, our petulant apostle desired a fight, not a petty ear-slicing. (Consider the Teacher’s challenge, “Will you really lay down your life for me?”) But in the torchlight mingled with a saline glaze, Simon Peter put an end to his confused maundering, mustered up his fervent bravery, and missed.


(The servant’s name was Malchus.) — John 18:10b

How could Malchus have known that someone much greater than the high priest called him out of bed that evening? Weary and perplexed, he was awakened by the split-second flash in a man’s eyes, the red glare of torchlight glinting off the edge of a dagger. A second later, while his severed ear lay senseless in the dirt, a trembling hand reached to retrieve it. (Could Malchus have overheard the high priest whisper, “He claims to be the Son of God”?) Though his name receives only parenthetical treatment, young Malchus returned to his bed, felt the contours of healed cartilage, and believed.

—D. W. Congdon, 4/17/03