This is the final poem of Split-Tale Sea. I started this project for a number of reasons, but the main one was the effect that water has on my (lacking a more universally received word) spirit. Water makes me feel more like a human. Quieted. Calmed. But also, buoyant. Alive. Here.
And I’m not alone in this: both scientific study and anecdote alike reveal, over and over, that water has this soothing, renewing effect in general. (Disclaimer being, probably not for anyone who’s afraid of it, but then again, oh my, what if that fear were overcome?!)
Thus, much of the whys are documented.
The whats, perhaps less so.
By whats, I simply mean: what can be done with this feeling? What Source first summoned the water to arise, and how can we seek more of its settling energy? What can one possibly bring into this world with the live-giving and healing that water gives?
Just days ago, being on the water brought me back to myself once again. And maybe that could serve as one answer (of many possible answers) to those questions: that is, what the water can prompt in us is as simple as a reminder.
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 was grey, not white; her stench filled the air,
An eyeblurring cocktail of fish bones
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,
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
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,
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
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,
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
The whale was grey, the size of a
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.
Dropping into this Friday with the second installment of this ocean-focused series, featuring thoughts on not-explaining the joke, Black Swan, being consumed by creation, and surfing. Poem below in audio and text formats!
He Was the Best Shaper for Miles
So you come to me with your arms full of water,
Which to me says you float
Which to me says hope
But who am I to your Noah’s ark?
Can you call yourself blessed if you’re blind to the dark? Because
I heard that you sleep alone with the lights on.
I heard that you carve like your hands are pure scythe.
I heard that you crave waves like your brothers do,
But I’ve not seen you there,
Never seen that love in you.
So you come to the water with your arms full of promise
Like a bouquet of jasmine spilling over a sigh
Which to me says you’re ready
For something new—but, what?
I heard that you heard voices in the mango tree—
That they told you to go and see
What it would mean to fall
And now you crawl.
What were you doing up there, asked your family.
This we will never speak of, you mumbled,
So of course they ask every day. Their eyes full of water,
They wonder and wander,
While you run off and squander their grace.
Now you cover your eyes
And I don’t know your face.