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In the Sistine Chapel, with Jonah in Midair

Sandra Gustin

Last painted but first to meet the eye,
Jonah is leaning back and looking up,
supported against all laws of perspective.
In between heaven and hell’s queues,
in between altar and firmament,
he meets the swell of divine affection.

After anxious and angry in-betweens,
after the mutiny, after the
waiting under the sea, after the
waiting under the calabash tree,
only then epiphany, and here’s
the microsecond it happened:

caught in his affection for the plant,
his anger at its loss, he starts to dream
of caring for women, children and men
of the city it took three days to cross,
and, leaning back and looking up,
he takes in the whole ceiling of divine history.

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