Church of the Map: The Jordan River

by Jory Mickelson

One fish tails another,
the river
in blue tesserae, the bank
brown limestone squares.
Christ entered the water
here, stepping from the cubic
shore. Small fish, there are
no ladders to jump,
no stiles,
one fish tells
another, Behind: stagnation. Ahead:
years of drought. The river’s
banks growing fatter. Each week
add a few more rows of stone. Here,
Christ slipped below the water,
received new life; a skin, a scale,
a sail full of wind.
Ahead for you:
salt. Behind: bitumen. Swim
into my hands as schools
of birds are netted by sky.

JORY MICKELSON is a queer writer whose work has appeared in The Rumpus, Ninth Letter, Vinyl Poetry, The Florida Review, Superstition Review, The Collagist, The Los Angeles Review, and other journals. He is the recipient of an Academy of American Poet’s Prize and is a Lambda Literary Fellow in Poetry. His most recent chapbook Slow Depth was published by Argus House Press. You can follow him at

Photo: “Mosaic Fishes” by Peter O’Connor