Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Rattlesnakes


Rough hands grabbed me in the dark.
I fought, but their grip grew tighter,
ropes binding my hands behind my back.
I knew what they had come for,
I knew that I was about to die.
They mocked me, calling me Mr. God-man,
for they had no fear of the Lord;
no one did in this secluded desert town.
“What am I doing here?” I asked myself,
as I had done many times before,
“Did I think I could change these people?
If they don’t fear the laws they see,
why would they fear the unseen?”
There was only one place they could be taking me:
Under the city hall was a cellar
where no one who was pushed in
ever managed to come out alive.
I saw a crowd gathering,
flashlights beaming through the night.
None of them said anything;
they all just watched with satisfaction.
No more would I preach on the street corners.
No more would I convict their sinful hearts.
There was no trial for me to state my case.
There was no judge to convict me.
Judge and jury had convened out of sight;
my guilt had already been determined.
They shoved me towards the slanted doors,
opened to reveal the pitch black cellar.
The ropes were removed, my hands freed,
but I couldn’t hope to fight my way
through the mob of glaring people.
“Let your God save you now,” they said,
as they shoved me into the hole
and locked the twin doors behind me.
The second I hit the cold earth below,
I heard the slithering bodies, the hissing,
the hundreds of rattles shaking in chorus
like an orchestra of demonic babies.
Perhaps it would have been natural to give up,
to let death come swiftly.
That was what I had been planning to do.
But as the fangs of the first snake sank in,
I found myself reciting a verse from the Bible
that said that those who believe in God
shall take up serpents and drink poison
and no harm will come to them,
and then another verse which said that the saints
will trample snakes and overcome all evil power.
And I knew then that, like Daniel in the lion’s den,
I would live through the night.
I lay still, praising God.
I felt the snakes slithering over me.
I felt them biting me again and again.
I felt their rattles vibrating against my skin.
But I knew that I was safe,
for the pain grew less and less,
and there in the darkness I went to sleep,
the snakes surrounding me and on me.
Hours later, at dawn, I awoke to see light
shining through the opened cellar door.
I started to get up, and the snakes struck again,
clinging to me with their fangs as I walked,
writhing against my skin like giant leeches.
A crowd watched me from outside the cellar,
the looks on their faces telling me much.
Some were terrified, some were weeping.
Some ran away, while others fainted.
None were unmoved by what they saw.
And from that moment on, they had no doubt
that the Lord was to be feared above all,
even more than the bites of hundreds of rattlesnakes.

(c) 2011 Jonathan Garner

18 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed reading this poem, Jonathan. Very well done. :)

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  2. This is an amazing poem. *shiver* Good job on the picture, too - it's always nice to have a matching set! :D

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  3. Thank you, Aubrey! :) I like making pictures for my posts.

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  4. Jonathan, this is amazing, image and text! It has lots of echoes of God's Word in a unique telling. Here, for example, you wrote:

    “Did I think I could change these people?
    If they don’t fear the laws they see,
    why would they fear the unseen?”

    John 3:12:

    "If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?"

    Thanks, Jonathan! The cellar, the snakes are great.

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  5. Thank you, Mrs. Tatham! I hoped the echoes of God's Word would be effective.

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  6. Wow, Jonathan - very well-written and poignant!

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  7. Oooo. I love it. ^_^ Very intense and lovely imagery.

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  8. Very well done... I enjoyed reading it.

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