inspired by the Book of Hebrews

To carry close a fishing net of gold or sea-green thread,
__a-woven by some skillful hands, with ruby borders bound,
a massive net, with onyx weights, and glass-blown floats, deep red –
__against one’s chest to press this, while it drapes cascading down.
To gather from one’s feet the loops, and place them on one’s head,
__parading long this treasure as a happy drooping crown.

Then through the tangled ties to push one’s eyes and look around,
__beyond the treasured mesh and see some finishers of a race,
who talk and tell of evidence that once lived in the ground –
__a heritage they hold with those who died in poor estates.
To watch them raise a prize whose great inheritance they are crowned…
__And then to look upon one’s golden threads and polished weights:

therein, to see one’s face reflected,
_________________________standing poor and pale.
__Then on the air to hear quite clear an all-compelling voice,
which calls, “Cast off!” and then to see the winners set a-sail,
__as many from the watching crowd display obeisant choice:
they cast aside their bundles made of gold or turquoise veil
__and liberate their legs so they can run and much rejoice.

To see all this and long to join them, gath’ring up one’s net,
__its mass all overhead to hoist in sudden strengths unknown,
to topple once, and stumble twice, but every time to get
__upon one’s feet and run again, as one and not alone,
unstitching every cord that binds, an oft-returning threat,
__and live a life of casting off, and running to the throne.

To persevere, surrounded by the runners who have gone,
__whose finish lines were met when they were halfway through the race.
To hold that fitness that they held, and confident, press on –
__this is the essence of athletic stamina and grace.
So may we all consider those who ran that marathon,
__and cast aside our nets which slow a great and glorious pace.


Joe Spring lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa. For more information please visit


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4 Responses

  1. Amy Foreman

    Wonderful, Joe! This poem paints a vivid picture of Hebrews 11 and 12, which have always been among my favorites. Thank you so much for sharing this!

  2. Michael Dashiell

    Though this odd story combined two separate interests, it was gracefully told.

  3. Monty

    This is a very stylish piece, Joe, with a rich use of language. Coincidentally, what maybe my favourite line in the whole piece . . is also the only line which I feel could be slightly enhanced: by adding brackets. Thus: “Unstitching every cord that binds (an oft-returning threat), and live a . . “ would, I feel, separate the ‘threat’ as something that’s happened before and will happen again . . but is not necessarily happening in the present.

    Regardless, it’s a quality line in a quality piece of work . . well played.

    • Joe Spring

      Thank you, Monty! I use parentheses way too often, so this was amusing feedback to read. Yes, I think it could work nicely that way, for the reasons you’ve observed. I’m glad you enjoyed the piece.


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