Contents of the Whale’s Belly, Grounded Off Race Point, Provincetown, Cape Cod, June 2003 A Response Poem to Jo, Jon Floating On Jonah's Whale
The Lord had prepared a great fish
to swallow up Jonah’s children,
to carry them down to the bottoms
of mountains, the weeds wrapped
round their head
Such was the Lord’s anger
at his servant’s disobedience.
The whale breached the Lord’s bidding
and carried Jo and Jon ashore,
wallowing through the marshes
onto the beach, crushed by the mass
which buoyed him through the cold
cathedrals of the deep.
The children dream in the brightening air,
guarded by the talismen of play.
A yellow straw lion, his sphinx eye
burning its hex, crouches at Jon’s head.
Swing happy monkeys, pretzel Watusi dancers
gangle the wall and hump hot racket.
The purple gatekeeper glowers
from his station.
The whale is no longer the leviathan,
the Lord’s shaker of the underworld.
He has been claimed by the tiny ones,
their smiling faces tattooed above
his sleepless, fading eye.
He is stranded in the sand walkers’ world,
holding, held, sinking deeper
with each small breath.