Jonah And This Whale

by Carlene M. Gadapee

With lines from Jonah 2:2-9

I’ve been caught in the belly of the beast before,
but not this beast, not these jaws that clamp closed
and filter rank spillage. Sodden bandages of kelp
swirl. Unseen viral droplets saturate hair. I learn
to hold my breath and wait, let contagion engulf
me, to pray in ragged gasps. A torn net lashes
my open mouth, and brine stings my twitching eyes.
What help can I look for, adrift as I am? Lungs gulp

for air. I called out to the Lord, out of my distress,
and he answered me. I am smothered anew,
my muffled voice lost and drowned by wind and woe.
But I hear Him, and I wash my hands, wear a mask,
and keep my distance: I with the voice of thanksgiving
will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will pay.

Carlene M. Gadapee teaches high school English in northern New Hampshire, and she is the Associate Creative Director and Education Consultant for The Frost Place in Franconia, NH. Her work has been published in the Aurorean, Backchannels, The Blue Nib, Fishbowl Press, Thimble, Think, Smoky Quartz, and English Journal, and elsewhere. She lives in Littleton with her husband, a bossy chi-pin dog, and two beehives.

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