I am far too buoyant for such treatment,
More buoyant indeed than rubber ducky,
Inner tube, or message-bearing bottle.
Sink me a dozen times, inundate me
In each of seven seas, each of their gulfs,
Each of countless coves, bays and inlets.
Every time I will pop up again,
Spitting water and breathing hard, but back.
Today missing, tomorrow back at work.
A foreign object of my size, once here,
Cannot be so easily dislodged.
Nineveh must stomach me a while more.
Mighty Nineveh is my city now.
God gave it to me, assigned me this town.
Here you go, kid, it's yours, he announced.
Go there and talk to them, use their language,
Keep talking, nag them until they get it,
Advertise, negotiate, browbeat,
Wheedle, importune, plead, mock and scold
Until the Ninevites have understood
Just exactly what my requirements are.
For I am, Marguerite, or at least was,
That missing prophet, the missionary
Whose mission brought him to pass sentence,
Pass like gas God's weighty sentence
Whose subject is the Lord, object the city,
Whose verb is complete annihilation.
It's imperative they hear the imperative.
Hear, or else. Do what I say or else.
Thus sayeth the Lord. On the other hand,
His prophet repeats this without comment,
Offers no opinion on the contents,
Makes no representations of his own.
I am just, Marguerite, a conduit.
You're not a conduit, spokesperson,
Prophet or oracle. You're a toy bird,
And I don't know why I even listen.
And why are you standing in that position?
You look like you're about to lay eggs
The size of overinflated footballs.
At the limits of my range I catch signals,
Whispers, cross-talk, ancestral voices,
Djinn howl, the distant flushing of toilets.
Here you hear Ishtar Fishwife instruct
The queen of penguin yoginis on technique,
Simple tricks to revitalize romance,
Six quick tips for sensational sex.
And it's here I overheard Hindu gods
Exchanging secrets of longevity,
And foremost among these recipes
Was Siva's instructions on contortions which,
If properly practiced, will extend your life
Beyond that of geriatric carp.
This pose of mine is that mystic stance.
It energizes, strengthens, keeps me fit.
I'll teach you that stance if you'd like to learn.
No thank you, she replied. I've heard enough.
No real prophet's short and putrid green.
I just knew you'd say that, Marguerite.
It's the same response prophets always meet,
The scepticism all seers expect.
And this too's a sign, as am I, and you.
We're signs of how signs will not acquiesce,
The signs of times that won't knowingly pass.
Would the Lord send a prophet, unlooked for,
As plastic toy that doesn't walk or fly,
Anatomically correct, but lifeless,
As cold and stiff as a rigoured corpse?
Would he send a toy so underpowered,
Not even a muscled action figure?
Liber Jonae Contents