Split-Tale Sea, Part 3

skylight

What do beached whales have to do with depth, and bridging gaps? Questions I attempt to answer in this next installment. Audio and text below. Enjoy + happy Friday!

The Whale

The whale was grey, not white; her stench filled the air,
An eyeblurring cocktail of fish bones
Dried sweat
Kelp
Baked together in midday sun.

The whale was grey, but dark,
Tinted with inky indigo.
What colors! cried the crowd that flocked
To see the beast beached on the shore,
Their eyes hungry for something new and lovely—
Here she was.
Enormous and abrupt, a miracle.
Or rather, how they always dreamt
A miracle would be.
A gift from God, one whispered. Marvelous.

The whale was grey, like a circus elephant.
She did not act like one.
She seemed to sleep: slow rhythmic breaths like steam,
Powerful stream
Like a truck stopped to let off exhaust.
Her spout pulsed, now-and-then, to send
Bulbous clouds of water choking through:

Three times in the first hour;
Once in the second.

A cluster of children clambered atop her brow
To feel the flow
But soon the sun sucked them dry, too,
Sending them back to their mothers and fathers
Begging ice cream
Water
Fresh air

Something better. Please?

Soon the sun did the same to their parents,
And the smell, oh well, they couldn’t bear it,
But as consolation, said,
Such a shame that such a lovely thing
Can’t do anything.
But the tide will come eventually,
Won’t it?
Take it home, of course it will. It’ll be fine.
It’s evolved enough for this.

The whale was grey, as she had been
For her last one hundred years;
As her ancestors had been
For several million more;
Evolved enough she was, indeed, to know
Abandonment.
Those animals, they don’t swim well,
And could not help her even if they tried.

And her clan was far away, because they
Were either wiser than she or,
Maybe, luckier.

The sun sank down, sky black as cavern innards;
No touch of light scattered throughout the waves.

The whale was grey, just like her song
She sang in spite of cracking lungs—
She shrieked, or so a passer-by might think—
She howled a sound like that of wolves, but heavier and round,
Like a full bunch of black grapes.

She sang it to the sky;
It was like a woman’s sigh,
But emptier than all that air somehow.
She sang it to the sky
As if the clouds might hear
And have mercy, perhaps feed a light rain,
Perhaps a heavy one to send her home again.

The rain heard not; the people did. They heard a
Delicate thick
Awful beautiful
Echo.

The whale was grey, the size of a
Single-family home,
With just as much life that was waning, and fast;
She poured it all into a nameless song.
It rang out like an echo in a canyon.
It cracked the windows that were closed
And drifted through the open panes
And every evolved person heard and could not catch her breath.
Each felt her face grow hot, indignant—felt his eyes alight with sudden tears.

Why oh why does she give so much life?
And we will never ever pay it back.