Jonah’s Whale Addresses the Almighty
Ruler of oceans, who can fathom
your summons? Pity my moans,
a small throat aching for everyday air.
Doubts are lice. They eat into brain and heart.
With a word, I’m consigned to an unknown shore.
O maker of magnificent tails, reconsider
stranding this body, far from the circle of my kind.
By your gift, salt is my song. When your breakers recede
from the sand, they will flense my flesh.
Never mind. You command my breath, as ever,
and bubbled columns must rise, our net
to enfold a wayward son. I’ll do as I’m told, only
ease the lung-numbing gulp, the breach,
the intestinal hell. Let the dripping thing
live. Then, may whatever end you design,
in kindness, close its mouth over me. Not to leap,
not to swim—but this I ask—once more
let me sink into you, before beaching.
First appeared in Commonweal
Laurie Klein is the author of the poetry collection Where the Sky Opens (Poeima Poetry Series, Cascade), and an award-winning chapbook, Bodies of Water, Bodies of Flesh. A past recipient of the Thomas Merton Prize for Poetry of the Sacred, Klein has also been nominated for Pushcart Prizes in poetry and Creative Nonfiction. She lives in the Inland Northwest.