At the Hands of Elisha
In Lesotho, the land has turned to dust.
The endless seasons of corn
have ruined it.
With the rains
the Orange River
always runs brown.
I saw a preacher
on the banks
turbaned in a red tongue of flame,
robes as blue as the sky
as green as the dream of the barren earth,
calling out like Elisha to Naaman
wash seven times and be clean.
Black and white we entered the water—
with our AIDS and ennui,
leprosy and anxiety,
hunger and child support payments—
seven times submerged
at the hands of the prophet
who didn’t judge us by our ailments.
The water carried away our disease,
our pain and desolation,
that once fertile soil.
Ethan J. Cole is originally from western New York State, where he learned to love stories and magic by walking in the woods and talking to himself. He continues this path in south west Florida where he lives with his dog Amos.