Jonah Complex

by Sara Moore Wagner


When I went into the water,
the silt came to my knees, debris
of arrowfish, of whales, of giant
open-mouthed sailboats scattering
the lake, pointed white teeth
of the dawn. I am stuck
as a minnow in a child’s little bucket.
I’m being carried, sloshing, back
to someone else’s mother
who will put me so gingerly
in a new place, plastic
and translucent, little silk
flowers waving. Maybe God
is this face looking in
to see only if you’re still
there, still floating on your back
in the overhead lights.
Maybe God is that whale
in the lake—who believes
in a whale in a lake
but someone knee deep in it,
looking for a way out.

SARA MOORE WAGNER lives in West Chester, OH with her husband and three small children. She is the recipient of a 2019 Sustainable Arts Foundation award, and the author of the chapbook Hooked Through (Five Oaks Press, 2017). Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in many journals including The Cincinnati Review, Tar River Poetry, Harpur Palate, Western Humanities Review, and Nimrod, among others. She has been nominated for a Pushcart prize, and Best of the Net. Find her at

Photo: “Minnow Freeway” by Brian McDermott