But wait, Jonah! Don't throw me back in.
I'm an angel of the Lord, said the fish.
In all my career I have never before
Had occasion to doubt the word of a fish
And yet I simply could not help finding
This proposition quite improbable.
Although I'm impressed by your station in life,
I replied, and by the fact you know my name,
You're still way too small to take to sell.
And I threw the fish back into the sea.
Was this fish luminous, lit within,
She asked, by heaven's otherworldly light?
It had that sheen that fish often have,
But otherwise no illumination.
And what kind of lighting it had within
Could only become manifest to man
And curious seals who follow caught fish
And gulls aloft who wheel in watch for guts,
Had I slit it open from tail to chin
Instead of letting it freely swim off.
Had you performed such an operation
You might have learned what made it converse
And sold the secret at far higher price,
Pound for pound, than what fishmeat would yield.
I see now, she said, why you weren't rich.
Again I cast my net and brought it back.
Again I found that fish thrashing there.
I am an angel of the Lord, said the fish,
Intoning these words with a great menace.
I will admit I'm not too bright, I said,
Yet I'm not so dull I'd accept your claim
Without some proper verification.
Do you have any identification,
Valid driver's license or credit card?
I left my wallet in my angelic robes.
Likely story, fish. Face reality.
As a fish you're too small for me to sell,
But as an angel you are too large to fit
Into such small-sized fish costume.
Size alone is no way to judge things.
Nor, for that matter, is colour or shape,
Or taste or texture, or how right it feels
When you give it prolonged, intimate hugs.
But never mind. What I'm trying to say
Is that you have here an emissary
Sent down expressly from the Godhead
Bringing critical, time-sensitive news.
And what kind of welcome do you give it?
Do you know how far I had to swim?
Those who reject messengers sent from God
By flinging them, divine message and all,
Not just once or twice with token flings,
But repeatedly and with undue vigour,
Into the water, later learn reason
To regret such rude, unwise behaviour.
The Lord, you know, can target fishermen,
Even here, with exquisite precision,
Can bombard a spot with microwave wrath,
Until the flesh blisters, bubbles and bursts
And yet leaves a wooden vessel unscorched.
But a fish, you'd think, wouldn't mind the wet,
Would welcome the chance to slip beneath waves
And re-moisten dried out gills awhile.
But okay, fish, I said, say your say,
But first inform me who this God is.
Liber Jonae Contents