This poem was composed in the voice of Jonah son of Amittai, the reluctant messenger of God who was called upon to prophesy the Destruction of Nineveh — but God forgave them.
Jonah (Yonah, in Hebrew) means dove; the name Amittai has the word “Truth (emet)” embedded in it.
I imagine Jonah as the “birdman” (either dove or raven?) that survived the Flood. He is full of questions about God’s sense of judgment and mercy; the problem of theodicy haunts him.
Reflections on the Haftarah of Parashat Re’eh (Isaiah 54:11-55:11)
Desire is painted grey.
Shame—pale, the colour of silver.
The lonely sky before sunrise,
moon lingers low, a sliver hung along the neckline
of a tree, stark hangman on the horizon.
The prophet beckons: “All who are thirsty, come to water!
All who have no silver, come buy food and eat,
wine and milk without silver and without price!”
Why spend your silver for no bread?
For that which does not sate?…”
Does God demand we desire no longer?
Not to live by bread alone but by the outpouring of the Word?
I watch the dawn inundate the island with colour,
Kodachrome shades of white and black.
The water ripples rose as the sun rises over the trees.
Grey moss turns to hazel, rock rolls into a blue hue.
The black branches shimmy into deep green, each pine needle distinct.
I wish I were a painter in motion
and could train my monochrome brush into colour
just as Dorothy woke up into the World of Oz.
This is the sating of Desire God promises.
You will no longer see the shame of black and white,
no longer long for colour out of shades of grey.
See the difference between green and blue on the fringes of your tunic –
This is daybreak!
Feast on that without silver,
Without desire, longing, or shame.
Embrace dawn colour,
sated in awe!