The Prodigal Son
It’s the hogshit stink rising with the sun
that’s done for me.
My hands webbed, gloved with the stuff.
And the cornhusks: dry as old harlots I’ve had
when shekels ran low.
One shindig after another. Sex
like shooting stars. My belly a wineskin,
now scooped out, shrivelled as the last fig of summer.
Birds could perch on each rib.
A cowl of shame.
Dare I shadow my father’s house?
The utterance of my name-
each letter an ulcer on his tongue?
Will I be but a mote of dust
shooed out by his hirelings?
I set off, sandals flap like dying fish.
Vultures fidget in my path.
arms outstretched in folds of the wind.
I stagger, kneel.
The forgiveness of a fatted calf,
purple robes to cover skin pleated over bones.
Words of silver to quench my thirst.
My son who was lost is now found.
And my brother?
He vomits envy.
I thought it would be a good idea to set a poetry prompt in response to Catherine's poem. Choose a biblical character and write a poem in their voice. 'Persona' poems, as they're called can be written in a number of ways:
1. You stay true to that character's experience and re-tell their story.
2. You use that character as a mask to talk about your own concerns (e.g. using the voice of Eve to talk about feminist issues)
3. You update the character and their story and give it a contemporary 21st century spin.
There's no shortage of characters to choose from and given the season you might even like to choose one from the nativity story.
Looking forward to reading your work.