by Joseph Baldwin

I am one among the platoon they sent
to seize that itinerant preacher, rabbi, magician,
or whatever he was. And, being pushed forward, first
to lay hand on him. (Not the sort of thing
I’d do on my own, but you know how it is with a squad,
fellows pressing all about you.) Well,
before I knew what was happening, some wild peasant
among them had whipped out his sword, and there in the dust
was my ear! — before anything started to hurt.
I mean, blood from it was spreading and making dark mud,
and the side of my head felt cool, as if a breeze
had touched that side and not the other.
Up this leader of theirs stood, he the cleanest-looking of them,
and lifted his hand toward me, and may have mumbled something…
I don’t know. I was “just coming around,” as you might say,
and raised my hand and felt my ear in place where it ought to be.
Meanwhile, this leader of theirs was giving the swordsman
a proper talking-to. And after that,
he put himself into our hands, and went along
with us to the chief priest.
The thing is — the amazing thing, you see — is,
none of my mates ever knew my ear was off,
and made no mention of it. I suppose
they thought the wild one had made a pass at me and missed;
and I didn’t want to say anything to them then,
not just then, till I had a chance to think it over.

Maybe it didn’t happen, after all? I’ll never know.
But — my hearing’s been different, ever since,
in ways I can’t just put my finger on.

If he was a magician, he was an odd one, don’t you know?
He let them nail him to a cross, and there he hung —
so they tell me. I was on a pass to my home village, by then.
Who’d waste leave-time in Jerusalem, with all those mobs,
and Roman soldiers making a mock of us, and getting all the girls?