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Jonah's Five Senses

by Margarita Engle
I pace the deck of the ship, feeling swallowed, knowing that I am visible to hidden
creatures of the deep. My cries of doubt are answered only by wind and seagulls,
and even though I can smell distant forests and the safety of land, I tell the sailors to
blame me for storm waves. They hurl my form overboard, and I float, until my
body is consumed by a fish.

I feel like a shell, a barnacle clinging to rock. I understand that I have been saved.
If the fish had not swallowed me, I would have drowned. Surely this aquatic creature
must be a submerged, wingless angel.

Together the fish and I spend the next three days wondering how it would feel to
carry the weight of many souls in our shared belly. We speak to each other through
flesh and bone, discussing the strange aromas and seeping flavors of time.

We are one, until the wings of breath become fins, and we drift apart, the fish to his
waterborne future, and I to the earthbound syllables of my runaway past.

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