One Son of Thunder (For James, Apostle and Martyr)

When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them. And they went on to another village.
(Luke 9:51-56)

He left his nets when the Messiah called;
left behind with his brother John
their father’s gainful fishing trade
and set his eyes towards the road
which these chosen twelve would walk;

And when they went on up the hill
to see His face shine white like fire,
he saw there what others weren’t
and what cherubim must shield
their eyes from now before His throne;

There, perhaps, he caught the flame
that burnt like sun-storm in his spirit,
though the fire was not yet
for him to strike up nor to kindle;
his thunder rumbled in the wind,

a heaving, looming presence, all
the thwarted bursting of potential,
sounding far-off, beyond clouds,
a step behind from all the action,
rumbling, pushing to be heard,

the bluster of half-valid pride
which starts against injustice and yet
sings a song that starts, Why me?
and calls down fiery judgment when
the fire’s time has not yet come.

He did not call down fire when
King Herod’s men came with the sword;
by then he knew what once had fumed
and rumbled in his consciousness:
the truth that made him brave the fire.

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