It was a lonely place—
The wind gagged my mouth with each stroke of the oars,
Rasping my voice, and the waves
Blinding me with salt; the lives of others before me
Whaled in it, blowholes no longer breathing.
I tasted the malignity of the chase,
A black death,
The unction of lamps,
They had an efficiency, a dark glow,
And were a necessity— tortured whales.
There was only one sanctuary,
Ice flow, simmering depth,
The whale road narrowed into a cold.
And the flares almost betrayed them—
Bright light, closing on shadows,
Like holes in a night sky.
The absence of clicking, a vacancy;
The icy light was staggering,
The whale thicket quiet
Squatting in a white ocean.
I felt a still sea, a passing.
I felt callused hands, dull, blunt,
Rigging sails no more.
How the end awaited them,
Waited like widows walks.
And me too, had a relationship with the sea—
Taut line between pole and water,
Fish too scarce now, all in a silver can
Sliding in oil waiting for a pan fry,
Their absence killing me also.