The Common Good
March 2006

Was the cry they heard a kestrel’s or a distressed gull
or a passing soul or one not wanting to, a disciple
asked as fog burned off the harbor and left the water

glazed with fire: Jesus roused from dozing lightly. Sun
turned the shore rocks ocher. A bee thrummed near;
they watched it hover. John, who squatted to mend a net,

said he once saw a crack open in midair through which
a shadow appeared, some darkling creature from
its dark lair, up across the wall, as if watching, and no light

to give it shape or substance—was it real or evil if it were?
Zebedee called his boys to basket their catch, to stop
lazing. Which is worse, Andrew asked, the world’s allure,

the flesh or the spirit war we are blind to see? What
infects us isn’t only me, another added. We’ve seen
the work of entities not bound by flesh or temporality,

right Jesus, haven’t we? They gazed at him like children.
I give you power to cast out and cure, he told them.
Take nothing for the journey. Simon, who drifted

elsewhere, sprawled slack-mouthed, eyes shut and snored,
unmuzzled. His brother plucked his beard to wake him.
The meager catch was little bother. A squad of geese v’eed

low in wheeling down, skittered, barely creased the sea in
landing. Go in two’s, Jesus said. His eyes searched each
until each glanced away. Then they stood and stretched and

yawned and scratched and skipped a couple stones and
waited
for him to pair them, which two and where. If he split
the brothers, chose the others even-odd, no one complained.

Michael Borich teaches at Missouri State University, in the heart of the Ozarks.

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