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Poetry

Deacon Nkosi, a member of the church, told the newspaper,
“The pastor taught us about faith on Sunday last week.”

 

Crocodiles can’t survive in the sewer
no matter what your grandmother says as she phones
from Florida where the rain

has flooded even the first floor of her fantasy
retirement village lifestyle rec-
reation room pool court shuffle
off to Buffalo board &

your mistake was that you lacked a boat
to focus on as you stepped out onto the surface
which you thought had hardened
but your foot
sank into the muck of leaves & sand & the carcasses
of thousand-year-old water-skater frog-snake
turtle underbellies       soft as the skin between
your toes when you were first born from water
& fire       your bones not yet set in this rigid
form.
Nothing works anymore, you think
as you sink. The ridges on the backs of crocodiles more
dinosaur than toad & the old song “frog
he went a courtin’ he did ride”—

on their backs they
could take you       migrate you       Nigerian
deities from the days when anyone could become
a god

start it all over       if only you could breathe don’t
panic—yet
They can swim so swiftly & each tooth
has a replacement waiting in the wings & later
you can tell the story as you pull money from your meat
handbag the hides tanned so smooth so
no longer dangerous.

When your sandals are found by the men on shore
this will make for a boring story because Jesus
didn’t come in at the end to save you
in some miraculous way.

Let them ponder the meaning of your underwear rising up—
white as a missionary’s skin        as an angel’s wing

sign from your soul’s mysterious abyss.

 

Pastor eaten by crocodiles while trying to walk on water like Jesus


Marci Rae Johnson is a freelance writer and editor, as well as poetry editor for The Cresset and WordFarm press. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in The Christian Century, Quiddity, and 32 Poems, among others. Her most recent book was published by Steel Toe Books.


The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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