If we’re already saved, why pray
for someone to throw us a rope,
I wonder as I sit on the riverbank,
watch two deer slip out of the woods
to drink from the shallows, their heads
bowed on this Sunday morning,
revolving ears attuned, as if
downwind from an enemy
or a sermon. I sip coffee
from a thermos, peer down through
clear water at bottom-feeding
carp, prehistoric mouths
scouring the gravel bed.
Not many minnows get away.
The sun slanted through our tent flap
this morning, lifted us out of sleep
and back into the safety of each
other’s arms and abashed apologies
for last night’s quarrel. I smell
broiling trout, my wife busy around
the campfire. Upstream, a gospel
says nobody clambered out of the boat
to venture over water except Peter,
whose feet moved like his teacher’s
until dark wings of panic fluttered
in his chest, death ready to follow
on the heels of daring love, then
the sure grip, the lift from the sea.
F.W. “Skip” Renker has recent poems in Presence, Leaping Clear, and The Awakenings Review. His poems have appeared in numerous journals as well as the Atlanta Review, Poetry Midwest, and Passages North anthologies, and he has a Pushcart Nomination. His books are Birds of Passage (Delta Press), Sifting the Visible (Mayapple Press), and Bearing the Cast (St. Julian Press). He lives with his wife Julia Fogarty in the beautiful lakefront town of Petoskey, MI.