Erin McIntosh Literature Poetry

fragments from the belly of the whale

Erin McIntosh


they told me i would be like jonah,
minus the comfort of speaking directly
to god. i told them alright. all is well.
stuck swimming in my own little world,
waiting for the whale my saviour to
scoop me up in his jaws, some man who
could carry me to where i needed to be.

i want to know where the wound stops
and the living begins. if god keeps changing
his mind, will we stay waiting forever,
or continue on running relentlessly toward
things we were born missing, side-stepping
our own discomfort, uselessly attempting
to fill up the empty vessels we call ourselves?
i am afraid of letting anybody see this —
that i myself too often resemble captain ahab,
blinders on, tunnelling onward toward
my own inevitable end.

i am groping for the switch to turn off my mind
and, unable to find it, i must admit to being
lost in this dark. there is nothing more
i can say. any chance we had of floating
on our backs in a calm sea is gone —
all of us are after all too busy thinking of
other things, wanting saving from our own
sad stories, these inescapable outcomes,
and i still like jonah, longing to be vomited
onto dry land, god-given instructions in hand:
here is what to do and how to live.

so it goes. and yet there is still something —
for instance, how i woke this morning
and ate a bowl of rice. a small black dog
curled onto my lap and i could smell the sea
coming in through the kitchen window.
the skin of my feet was cracked and white
and i listened to songs about oregon and dying.
the brevity of our time together moves me,
but then so does the brevity of my time
in this sitting room. this world.


Erin McIntosh Erin McIntosh is a writer and actress currently living in Los Angeles. Her poetry has appeared and is forthcoming in various journals including Bone Bouquet, Lavender Review, Hawai’i Review, apt, Gravel, Drunk Monkeys and Pine Hills Review. Visit her at