Whales

First published in Frogpond 38:1, Winter 2015, page 60. Written in June and July of 2007.

            1.

The whale’s curve splits the water, leaving a wake that melds with ours. In the spray of wind, we cannot hear the whale spouting, but we hear each other oo-ing and ah-ing. The tour boat surges forward in the same direction until the whale dives.

            clanging buoy—
            we keep looking
            to where it was

            2.

The whale’s curve splits the sand, its heavy flesh swarmed with flies. We are close enough to look into its large eye as we leave our own marks in the wind-blown sand. Though its spine is curved as if to disappear beneath the waves, it never dives.

            dark blubber—
            the size of its shadow
            in blazing sunlight

            3.

The whale’s curve splits in two, heavy wet machetes swinging in unison. The tribal dancers sing and chant, stray feathers and modern grease paint flying and dripping. Blood drains away into concrete gutters, making its final dive.

            tribal elder
            pausing in his dance
            to open his cell phone

            4.

The whale’s curve blocks out the sun. Its calf follows closely in its mother’s shadow, as swells above them roll and roll. Together they rise for an intake of air.

            a thousand bubbles—
            each one the shape
            of a pulsing jellyfish