Friday, August 21, 2015


To the right stands Jonah, bearded, disheveled,
Dazed; he’s just escaped from the great fish
Which has delivered him to
From the left an angel swoops in, his round, pale face
Lit with concern. He is bringing Jonah a towel.
The artist recorded this long ago but his bright ink
Still commands the eye. My father had a postcard
Reproducing the picture. The angel looked kind to me,
Plainly concerned for Jonah, but something
Made me doubt his scruples. God sent him, granted;
As someone to meet Jonah at journey’s end
But nothing was said about a towel. The angel,
Tracing the
Tigris's meanders, must have spied it
Far below, set out to dry on a bush or a wall
And spirited it off, clean out of its place
As part of some family's laundry, thrusting it
Into the story of Jonah. I imagine that later,
When the Book of Jonah was written, the angel
Eagerly gave interviews. "Yes, I knew Jonah;
I was there, right there, when he came out of the fish.
In fact, I brought him a towel, for which he thanked me."
He still hopes for a new edition of the Bible
In which he figures as the Angel with the Towel.

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