Rib Cage

Lee Carter has provided another poetic treat to accompany Thursday's post.

Stephen Rue, Jonah in the Whale, oil on canvas, 26.25"x25", 2006. From www.artisttrust.org.

Rib Cage

Jonah, you
and I were both signs
to unbelievers.

Learning the anatomy
of ships and sea animals the hard way –
from the inside
out – you counted (bumping your stubborn head)
the wooden beams and the great
curving bones
and left
your own heart unexplored.
And you were tough.
Twice, damp and undigested
you were vomited. For you
it was the only
way out.

No, you wouldn’t die.
Not even burial softened you
and, free of the dark sea prisons,
you were still
caged in yourself – trapped
in your own hard continuing rage
at me and Nineveh.

For three nights
and three days dark as night –
as dark as yours –
I charted the innards
of the earth. I too swam
in its skeleton, its raw underground.
A captive
in the belly of the world
(like the fish, prepared by God)
I felt the slow pulse at the monster’s heart,
tapped its deep arteries, wrestled
its root sinews, was bruised
by the undersides of all
its cold bony stones.

Submerged,
I had to die, I had
to give in to it, I had to go
all the way down
before I could be freed
to live for you
and Nineveh.

Luci Shaw, from Polishing the Petoskey Stone, Selected Poems, Regent College Publishing
(Vancouver, BC), 2003, p.49-50