I made sure they were menders of nets —
my two boys,
grown men now, but still as impulsive
as their younger selves.
They were fonder of practicing
their great strong casts,
spun wide and high as spiral galaxies
and sinking deep
around the hidden schools of fish.
A net with holes flies silver through the air,
but brings no supper home.
Fonder, too, they were of boasting
(with a skin of summer wine)
their great catches,
and wild storms ridden out
under the dark and brooding skies,
when I would furl my sails,
for old men respect
the anger of wind and waves and know
there are days to stay ashore.
I never begrudged their going forth.
I liked the teacher’s message – they chose well.
Did you know my wife was one
who went to the tomb at dawn with spices?
No, perhaps you didn’t.
If you think of us at all,
it is as parents who are always left behind,
proud to send their children out
skilled in cast and catch,
able to face high winds, rough storm …
and only we know that in the thunder
of their brave following
and all that is bound to come
they’ll need as well this other gift –
this mending of the nets.
(Tissot, James, 1836-1902. Calling of Saint James and Saint John, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. Original source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Brooklyn_Museum_-_The_Calling_of_Saint_James_and_Saint_John_(Vocation_de_Saint_Jacques_et_de_Saint_Jean)_