Recalled and Forgotten
He turned walking on water into a kind of art. He rarely
got wet. He’d set out from the old fisherman’s wharf at various times of day,
before dawn on occasion. Sometimes he’d return after just a few minutes.
Sometimes only after the ridges of the eastern mountains were red
with the fire of sunset or after the burning in the west
had already turned into embers and darkness. No one
understood his solitary walks. Some suggested he take up
water-skiing. Others were content with a joke or a shrug of the shoulders.
Small fish silently streamed beneath his feet, going about their business,
venturing no opinion about the man who was walking across the water.
Times were hard, as always. Above all one had to survive, a difficult task
even for fish. With years of drought the water level had fallen
and the fishermen sometimes came home with not enough fish in their nets
for even their families, which had tired of the taste of fish
and their stench, of the dry scales that filled the miserable home
like pine needles covering a forest floor.
That was then. He hasn’t been seen in public since.
Some said he went to Jerusalem on important religious or political business.
Others claimed he was called in for a talk with the boss. The market experts –
they’re always around – noted that he’d clearly not walked there on water.
After a time they forgot him. Only the elders and gossips
still spoke of a man who had been here, long ago, and had even walked on water.
His name they no longer knew. Nor did they know, and perhaps hadn’t known
from the start, why he did what he’d done. That’s how it is with
stories like this one, which circulate widely and wind up in some book
or forgotten. His story managed both: He’s mentioned
in several Baedekers
under the heading Folklore.