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Bad Timing for a Prophet

 

For seven years, he sat, squinting,

by the whispering waves of the sea-lagoon,

fingers playing with small hills and valleys

of a million purple-tinged shells,

stuttering at the fishermen’s questions

waiting for a voice – a sign.

 

Weary of the wet sand,

the sickly fruit of the tall trees,

he strode inland into the heat,

   as if he had a purpose,

held high a shard of Phoenician glass

as a charm against the sun god’s blazing chariot.

 

An acacia bush crackled as it caught the light,

miraculously twisted itself into spiny fire.

A dove shrilled as it flapped away           

in search of an outcrop or an olive tree

and a voice cried out:

 

“You have no branch or brand

to capture heat. Come back

when you have learned

to plan better.“

 

“P-p-prometheus seeks you, not I”

the man replied.     

 

“Ah.Ah..

The One you seek has no name you can say,

is no man-eater, no hairy teller of trashy riddles,

but a Fierce Spirit high in the barren mountains,

his imperial face more terrible than Medusa’s.”

 

He turned away, remembering

a bed of trampled bulrushes

by stinking trapped water,

wondering where the spirit could be

and how beautiful, how grand and never-ending

the distant land promised to some, and

held by others, must surely be.

 

The voice, now sad, called as it faded:

“He bullies and pities in equal measure” 

but the man did not hear the warning.                                         

 

David Allard, now retired from teaching English to asylum seekers and refugees, writes poems and short stories. Some of the work has appeared in USA and UK publications

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