Stonework is published by Houghton College, a Christian liberal arts college located in New York’s rural Genesee Valley. Stonework seeks a diverse mix of mature and emerging voices in fellowship with the evangelical tradition. Published twice a year, the journal reflects the arts community at Houghton College where excellence in music, writing, and the visual arts has long been a distinctive.

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  • Issue 6
    Poetry by Paul Willis and Thom Satterlee. Fiction and interview with Lori Huth. Essay by James Wardwell, and student poets from Christian campuses.
  • Issue 5
    Poetry by Susanna Childress and Debra Rienstra. Fiction excerpt by Emilie Griffin. Art from Houghton's 2007 presidential inauguration and a forum on women writing.
  • Issue 4
    Matthew Roth--new poems. Diane Glancy--from One of Us and an interview. John Tatter-on gardens and poetry. The Landscapes of John Rhett. Stephen Woolsey--on the poetry of Jack Clemo. James Wardwell--on Herrick.
  • Issue 3
    Poetry by Julia Kasdorf, Robert Siegel and Sandra Duguid. Fiction by Tom Noyes. The portraits of Alieen Ortlip Shea. An anthology of Australian Poets
  • Issue 2
    Thom Satterlee - Poems from Burning Wycliff with an appreciation by David Perkins. Alison Gresik - new fiction and an interview. James Zoller - Poems from Living on the Floodplain.
  • Issue 1
    Luci Shaw — new poems with an appreciation by Eugene H. Peterson & Hugh Cook — new fiction and an interview

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

In the Valley of Salt

~Laurie Klein

Before the Wind

High on mulled air, the bos’n stood lookout,
alive to salt, alert to wing and wind, the tang of land,
when starboard a tempest arose,
driving a city of waves—
Avast! he cried.
Stern to hull,
timbers groaned. Jettisoned cargo sundered the whitecaps,
sailors prayed, and the pacing captain bellowed for Jonah,
hammocked below,
lost in nightmare:
a gaping lip
like a swamped skiff, a peninsular shore,
fringed with kelp. With an almighty heave
she breached, and that sighted coal in its socket,
that eye like an oven burned, turned on the dreamer with
lasic force.
And Jonah quailed at the captain’s shout,
awake. The gale howled; lots were cast. Leviathan rumbled,
keening below. Now God’s fugitive kneels at the rail and
cradles his head;
skull bones chime.
"Out!” he cries.
“Gristle, fin and marrowbone, I have been chosen.
T’is my wedding night, mates.”

Jonah's Wale Addresses the Almighty

Ruler of oceans, who can fathom
your summons? Pity this small throat
aching for everyday air. Doubts
are lice, eating into this brain and heart.
With a word, I’m consigned
to an unknown shore. Oh,
maker of magnificent tails, reconsider
stranding this body
far from the circle of my kind,
errand girl for your dirty work: I, your unholy
bride, your eager breakers my jealous
attendants—they batter my flesh. Yes, they will
flense my flesh.
Never mind. Let the dripping thing
live. Whatever end you design
in kindness will close its mouth
over me. Not to leap, not to swim,
but once more let me sink
into you, before beaching.

Jonah, Within

Rib to rib I’m flung, my robe
rotting off bone. Am I krill to be sieved,
then excreted, a gruel of cells
tainting your sea? Let me die,
curled in this pulsing sac, your words
rising like bile, singeing tonsils
and tongue, your briny God-talk
likely to split a lip, score
the roof of a mouth. Ancient of Days,
no one will heed such a walking
blight, or welcome a warning
planted like tares in my breastbone—
eyeless roots,
nosing down windpipe, tentacles
trussing each lung as I choke out
a vow, a squall of diphthongs.


Into the wind’s eye
leviathan slews, gulping
flesh—her pleated throat
swells. Surf churns and,
ignoring soundings,
she runs aground—dorsal fin
listing hard, her underside
a rounded keel, half-
embedded. How those eyes
smolder, embers in an iron
helmet, drenched in spume.
Backwash roils, a stun of water
everywhere. Aye, the wake
unravels for leagues.
Constellations of shadow
swarm skull and spine,
the nave of ribs. Networked with oils
and braids of kelp the whale
lies, self-moored,
veiled with steam,
flippers like wings, sculling air.
From the great eyelids and over
the monstrous jaws,
glutinous strings
loop like hawsers, festooning
a face: Jehovah’s
tears, shawling her body.


From lifted flukes to jaw,
the marbled halls of muscle
convulse. Each wave is a gable,
an eave that shudders loose
from a sacred pavilion. Debris
litters sand. Like a shed, fallen-in,
stirred by wind, her voice
sounds like ten-penny nails,
wrested from oak beams.
Through aqueous light,
guttering now, she sees him stumble
clear of the ambergris before
it hardens. Groaning,
she angles her corridor of neck
nearer to water. For hours,
all her doors will lie open.
Jonah will kneel to stroke her hide,
cupping brine in withered palms,
pouring his thanks, over and over.