V. The Paralytic (2:1-12)

People just keep going
Around, across,
Any way they can.
Directionless,
They do not notice the man
Who motionless,
Waits.

They step over me,
Their limbs stretching usefully
Even as they swarm the over-full room.

But what can I do?
Nothing but what I am doing:
Lying here.

Still, in one shattered piece,
I feel the full weight of despair
And the weight of the crowded air—
And at the same time,
I feel nothing.

Lying here, I can still recall
When lying was pleasant—
After a day of honest labor
Or an afternoon of children’s games.

And I can still recall the grim delight of lying
With words to deceive
Or women to love
In secrecy.

The crowd is thick.
I watch as someone trips
Over the legs I no longer
Know as my own.

As I am carried overhead
Still in my bed,
The thought crosses my mind
That maybe falling would, this time,
Not be so bad.

Yet even that end
Is not in my power.

They lower
Me
Down.

A face comes into view
Looking down, not in pride,
But sadness as though seeing
That past I most wish to hide.

“Son,” he says,
“Your sins are forgiven.”

Immediately,
Although my body is still,
My heard bounds to him
And my soul turns within.

Immediately,
Outrage erupts around
But I hear only one voice:
The Life-Giver, Forgiver,
Who speaks yet again.

Immediately,
I rise to his call:
Could I ignore the One
Who taught Adam to walk?

Immediately,
I gather my bed,
My limbs straightening
Beneath my bowed head.

No more lying for me.
Walking, too, is not enough
If not in the footsteps
That pave what was rough.

He leads in the dance
That I follow with joy;
He lifts me and leads me,
Immediately.

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