Dan Beachy-Quick

Razo—I too Easily Imagine Myself in the Whaling-Boat


A recurring thought might explain me more
Than I can explain me to you. The spear-struck
Whale churns with his massive tail the water
To white-roil, fury, turmoil, to gale-height waves
When no gale blows—spear-struck, and then sounds
Ocean-down as long as breath allows.
At death-speed the whale dives, drags
The spear-line down. the spear-line down
That winds intricate across the boat, a tarred-line
That like a bent-blade twists across the boat at such speed
To touch it with your hand is to lose your hand,
With leg is to be dismasted, a line
At razor’s speed, death-speed, taut through water’s
Torment, the quick line with the quickened whale
Dives down, and slows when death quickens past speed,
The rope slows, slow enough to hold, and can be used
To haul the boat nearer-to, nearer. But, Sir—
                                                                   if the whale
Dive fast enough, sound fathoms enough down,
The dark line lines out
To nowhere—1200 ft, but 1200 ft at fury’s pace
And the captive whale is free. Imagine, Sir—the silence
Then. The ocean thin as a page. Page-flat.
A voice could ripple the water then—
A nib in the whale held me to the whale
And now the whale is gone. Do you
Know, Sir, how to unfold that thought
You couldn’t keep silent but is
Silence itself? There is no life larger
Than the whale’s. (I didn’t know why
My wife grew silent when my sorrow grew
Smaller than a single eye.) I read a book, one
Book. It has white pages I can count. Inside
It is a dark line wrapped around each corner
Of the page—a long, quick line. (I touched it.)