Home >> Volume 6, Issue 01


Elena Lee Johnson

I’m with you, brother,
asleep while your companions
fight against the storm.
You have nothing better to do—
or rather—you have something, but
determine on undoing, instead.

I’m with you, brother.
I imagine you—hollering, resigned,
maybe almost welcoming death:
“Throw me in.”
You saw, you had to see,
how your small stubborn cannonball of rebellion
splashed tribulation over everybody else.

I watch with you, watch the water lock
(fathom after fathom) above our heads,
slowly stopping the light:
“’The deep surrounded me;
weeds were wrapped about my head
at the roots of the mountains.
I went down to the land whose bars
closed upon me forever . . . .’”

You are audacious, my brother,
turning your face to the last of the light,
and crying for rescue from this—
the end of your running,
the down deep bottom
of not going to Nineveh.
Even from the fish’s belly,
your lance pierces me, prophet:
“’Those who pay regard to vain idols
forsake their hope of steadfast love.’”
In all my running, all I have wanted
was love I couldn’t escape.

How mean must have been your world,
how unstinted your peevishness,
to begrudge God His mercy
and others His forgiveness.
You are like me, brother, small
in a saga much bigger than yourself,
servant of a God Who bends
to send you storms and great fishes,
a vine and a worm,
sunburn and a question.

Note: Quotations from Jonah 2:5-6, 8 (ESV).