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Like one awaking from a dream
he hears lake water lapping
in his heart believes it
to be his destiny or doom.

No matter that he’s seen
the empty tomb, the risen Lord
appearing and disappearing
devouring broiled fish.

In his heart the rooster’s still
crowing, every last word
reverberating, the look’s still
piercing his bitter tears.

No wonder, then, when he returns
to a world at once familiar
and yet so strange, a world
of nets and boats and weather,

a world devoted to the daily
catch and calculations
in the marketplace, no wonder
he finds the horizon closer.

No longer set apart
but simply set aside—
“and Peter” the angel said—
he says, “I’m going fishing.”

His hands may soon regain
their hardness, his back remember
bend and pull, his arms recover
the rhythm of casting and hauling.

He rows away from shore,
lets the boat ride the swells,
breathes in the smell of water,
and waits for the darkness to come.

When the old sweat begins
he strips to free himself
for work, nowhere to go
but here, nothing to catch but fish.

Another sleepless night,
his net keeps coming up empty,
and he keeps wishing for the dawn
to finally bring an end.

Photo by Fredrik Öhlander on Unsplash

Eric Potter

Eric Potter is a professor of English at Grove City College (PA) where he teaches courses in poetry and American literature. His poems have appeared in such journals as 32 PoemsFirst Things, The Christian Century, and The Midwest Quarterly. He has published two chapbooks and a full-length collection, Things Not Seen (2015).