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“Before the Healing” by Merrijane Rice

Master, I beseech thee, look upon my son: for he is mine only child. Luke 9:38

A devil grips my son, shakes him like a mast in sudden storm till bones rattle and head beats the ground. I cannot tear him free.

He is bruised and scarred, but not from play. I once pulled him blistered from his mother’s cooking fire. Another day, as I mended nets, he collapsed in stony shallows. I ran to hold his head above water, cradle him till the fit passed.

At night, I wrestle with his empty future: He will never learn to sail or sort a day’s catch on the shore. He will never read in the synagogue or keep a feast day in the shadow of the Lord’s holy house. He will never marry or worry over children of his own.

I still believe. I pray. I plead to know what lack in me keeps us from compassion, but scarcely dare to ask again for what has been withheld.

By early morning, I am wrung out. Silence hangs like a heavy veil. I venture one more question, father to Father: If you had just one child, would you do nothing to save him from being torn in two?

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