Jonah and the Whale
Impasto roils the canvas and the sea
as Jonah flails in white-capped waves after he
is flung overboard to die. Inflicting his work
with tempera so thick that it will ooze, crack,
never dry, constantly painting over, Ryder
gives God angel wings that span the horizon.
Gesturing now, God looks aside while Jonah,
wild-eyed, about to go under, waves his arms.
The leviathan will soon engulf its prey.
During the long unfathomable journey
Jonah will repent, be thrown up on the shore.
Don’t we all express defiance, flee from God,
get swallowed up somehow, then beg to be saved?
Bonnie Naradzay leads poetry workshops in Washington DC at a day shelter for the homeless and at a retirement centre. Recent poems have appeared in New Letters (nominated for a Pushcart), RHINO, Tar River Poetry, EPOCH, Tampa Review, Poet Lore, Anglican Theological Review, The Ekphrastic Review, and others. While in graduate school at Harvard in the 1960s, she took a class with Robert Lowell: “The King James Bible as English Literature.” In 2010, she was awarded the New Orleans MFA Program’s Poetry Prize: a month’s stay in the castle of Ezra Pound’s daughter, Mary, in northern Italy, where she enjoyed having tea with Mary, hearing cuckoos call out, and hiking in the Dolomites. More recently, in 2017 she earned a master’s degree in liberal arts at St. John’s College in Annapolis.
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