You dried your cloak on the riverbank.
Hoards lined to enter the water where
your hairy and ragged cousin preached
and dunked convicted souls.
The Power drove you and you trekked to
desert wilds through acres of rocks,

over dry ravines, between jagged cliffs
and eroding sandstone; dodging thorns,
fiery ants, scorpions, and vipers shading
under beckoning boulders for tired feet.
Forty days. Wandered. Sat. Scorching winds or
midday sun. Barren hills, treeless slopes, scattered shrubs.
Ankles and shins scraped and scabbed. Sweating. Starving.
Grimy. Blistered. Insect bitten. Sunburned. You and Father walking.

Forty nights under a waxing and waning moon.
Cloudy nights or starry canopy. You padded
plants and branches for a bed under ledges, bushes,
or cave maws when raining. Beasts stalked and growled.
No lamp or candle. You and Father preparing.

ָׂשטַן–śāṭān– came at darkest hours whether midnight or noon
like he did to Nachash in the garden, describing fruits in his kingdom
at opportune times. On day forty: You were starved, haggard,
gritty, exhausted when Liar began his siege. You frowned,
sighed, shook your head, and began: “It is written . . .”

The writer has written sacred and secular verse for decades. He has been published in Prairie Messenger, Windhover, The Anglican Theological Review, Ancient Paths, The Christian Communicator, Time of Singing, The Christian Century, and others. He is a member of the Winston Salem Writers. He serves a life sentence, condemned to write verse. His Jesus Through A Poet’s Lens is now available via Kindle. https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Peter+Carrington+Venable&ref=nb_sb_noss