after the painting “Jonah” by James Patrick Reid
Ready to swallow the fallen, the sea swells.
“The waters want me,” Jonah cries,
running, running, always running away. Called
to Nineveh, he fled the other way. Holed
up on a ship with his tempest of lies,
the fallen one is ready to be swallowed. The sea swells.
O great whale arise, each tooth a sword
aimed at the deserter. City and ship compromised,
the man’s running, running, always running away. Called
by the God we’re fleeing, like Jonah, we’re swallowed whole.
A mercy, this digestion of grace. Internalized,
we’re readied to swallow our fallenness. See how guilt swells
to epiphany and penance, here in the beast’s belly.
In the foul cavern of ribs, Spirit swims in to evangelize
the one running, running, always running away; He calls
and claims His own for three dark days, until captor expels
its captive, resurrection prophesized for the capsized,
the ready. Here, the fallen swallowed, mercy swells
always, the savior still running, running, running toward. Calling.
Finalist for the Sacred Arts Poetry Contest sponsored by Catholic Literary Arts
Image: “Jonah Cast into the Sea” by James Patrick Reid (used with permission)