The Miraculous Draught of Fishes

after Raphael

Keep ’em coming, the Pilot said, as would-be customers
cheered expectantly on the distant shore. Fish spilled
over the edge of the boats, enough for everyone—even
the cranes applauded, open-mouthed—as the disciples
reached down for the nets, sun on their muscled arms.

A moment of reflection, that is what we see, pointing
figures mirrored in the water, a leg here, a blue garment
there, the white skirts of Jesus taking on a tinge of red
under the surface, as if warmth and reassurance colored
the entire scene. We wait at the table with hands clasped.

And I dreamed this, a few days after my father died:
he and I on the beach together, anxiously rushing about
to rustle up enough boats, and it seemed we were letting
fish down into the water, instead of the other way around,
but it did not matter, these were my father’s arms.

A miraculous draught they called it, a current of air,
the act of pulling a load, a portion of liquid, a gulp
or swallow, the amount inhaled in one breath,
the boat with its surprising cargo
drifting away.