The best prophets, she said, don't get lost.
The Temple's nowhere near that district.
I think you got turned around somehow
Despite the signals bricks had beamed your way.
Or maybe the Temple's output was bounced,
Reflected off the Heaviside layer
To hit your soul from some other bearing.
God's Temple is downtown, dead centre.
It's right next to Macy's department store.
Maybe it wasn't the right ziggurat,
The one your long detour took you to.
You ended up, perhaps, in a warehouse.
I bet you didn't stop to ask the way.
Don't impede progress with scepticism
And quibbles on how your city's laid out
Or other details that don't make sense
Without preparation parrots omit.
Take on faith these flaws, real or perceived,
And hope exposition grants fresh life
To what's now too mute to deny it's died.
Forget the look of individual threads
And concentrate instead on grand designs.
I saw, on my way, the industrial zone.
Take it as stated, as absolute truth.
Sure, parrot, she said, whatever you say.
Maybe I didn't take the best of routes,
The shortest path that connects the two points,
And maybe wasted time in getting there,
But still I got to see a neighbourhood
That's known even in the farthest Far East.
Moreover, Marguerite, there were clues
That this way I took would soon pay off,
That this was the way that best led to goals.
I mean the dead bodies I stepped over,
Dead bodies of prophets who'd gone before.
Dead bodies? Here in Nineveh? she said.
What prophet passes up chance to come
To this place his Lord both loves and hates?
And to die without chance at diatribe
Or tirade against Ninevite sin
Can add a twitch into an afterlife,
Blemish indignant bliss with nagging doubts
And reanimate souls who'd hoped to sleep
And decompose in God's absorbent grace.
No regret brings greater wist than this
To those whose sentences are incomplete
And still linger along wrong river banks,
To those who'd gone instead to Babylon
Because the payscales ran higher there,
Or weather was better, or airfares cheap.
The Lord's prophets, if any good at all,
Avoid regrets, avoid bad outcomes,
And make a point to come before they die,
Their last chance haj, a last minute trip.
And some, less prescient or less hardy,
Postpone derision, leave it too late,
And die enroute with visions unrealized.
The only function left for such prophets,
As soon as light departs, is just to fall,
To drop onto ground wherever they stand
And act as breadcrumbs for wandering tribes,
For faithful who follow, one corpse to next.
And thus I would find them leaned against posts
Or wedged tilted over in their bus seats
Or propped up on toilets in unlatched stalls
Or pitched in ditchwater, already stiff.
So many prophets preceded me there
They lay heaped up in intersections
So high in places that traffic was blocked,
Forcing cars to halt and joggers to climb.
And some bodies piled were not quite dead,
Alive just enough to cough out bile,
A short malediction or wheezing curse,
And then, of course, they demanded spare change.
Liber Jonae Contents