“Whale-fall” by Jeff Whitney

07 February 2011 on Poetry   Tags:

And so you set out
to know the world
but once you reached
the Pacific you turned
into a carrion-eater and took to wing.
Island, island, everything
an island you learned
after a year circling the globe.
Soon you got tired and so dove
into the water where you became
an angler fish down somewhere
deep. You followed your forehead
for years. Occasionally an entire whale
would sink past en route to the bottom.
You enjoyed the cold and the dark
but you missed the air above the sea
and you missed your human legs.
A whale might sink for days
before it settles into silt.
Maybe it never does. You don't know.
You've seen almost everything and you don't know
if any of it ends, if whales themselves
don't grow wings and straddle the globe
or grow legs and walk the land,
if in their new lives they return
to the bottom of the ocean as the sand
beneath their rotten shells, the same sand
two children collect in buckets together
to make a place on some beach
time can never swallow, much less find.

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