Peter Wept

After a little again those standing round said to Peter, "Surely you're one of them. It's plain your a Galilean."

He began to curse himself and swear, “I don’t know this man you mention.” At once a second time a cock crowed and Peter remembered the word Jesus said to him “Before the cock crows twice you’ll deny me three times” and dwelling on that he wept.

(Reynolds Price Translation)

Following is a poem I wrote, imagining what might have been in Peter's in that moment in the courtyard after hearing the cock crow a second time. 


And Dwelling on that He Wept

Peter in the courtyard in
the at the moment of his denial

On the way up
to Jerusalem we argued
who was the greatest.
I was the first one called.
I was the one
who walked on the waves of Galilee.

After bread and wine
as we walked last night
he said I was the one
who would deny him.
Three times.
Before the cock crows twice.
Three times.

As he bargained in the garden
a fog of fear
and rage
rolled up the Jerusalem hills
like a legion of freed demons.
It found me asleep,
overcame me, possessed me,
willing fists, but spirit weak.

I woke to tongues of flames,
to swords and sticks,
to a wave of rage
that slapped against
my willing flesh,
and left behind
a mad man.

The rage ebbed
leaving panic and silence.
I was the one
who stood beside him
with a knife in one hand
an ear in the other.

As I followed him down
to his death
a wave of fear rose up
from some primitive place inside me
slowly rising up like vomit.
The wine and bread
sour and heavy and on fire.
Asked if I knew him, I denied, and denied. 
I denied as the cock crowed a second time.

Look at me here
a coward in the courtyard.
The wave of fear
receding, receding
leaving emptiness,
emptiness, and the coldness of death.

It is finished.

And dwelling on that I wept.