JONAH WAS A PROPHET by Ottavia Paluch

/ / Issue 18

but I’m just this tiny little thing
that was too quiet to become a prophet myself.

In the ocean, I’m not bothersome. Above it,
I exist and pretend not to. You forget who

you are after being swallowed. It’s weird, thinking
like this. You say things like home to a whale who

has already found one. In the digestive system, all you can do
is swallow and pray. You want to be cast out, like a fish.

Look at this world, trying to get above the trees.
I know nothing but the fact that we are fish, not saplings,

or that I will never reach the top of the mountain. Still,
I keep trying. Otherwise: no point. That’s not

the first disappointment I’ve had, which is to say that I
was the first, the one who stole the whale’s heart

because mine wasn’t pure enough. Did I choke on Eve’s apple?
If I yank on God’s vocal cords, will he sing me a hymn?

I don’t know. I’m not Jonah. Just a wannabe tidal wave,
a stranger. Scratched in God’s throat.