WHALE

I knew two boys 

who drank too much and swore

off girls for a summer

claiming they were too bitchy

that the sea was better company

So they took a little boat out and 

went fishing on moony nights when 

the water runs slack and they could 

smoke and drink and watch

the phosphorescence skitter through the waves.

One night late August when the heat

was heavy and silent a whale came

and startled them from their sleep

of warm beer and stale tobacco.

The creature swam near the bow

and shook its tail rubber-black

as the boys sat still, their fishing poles

gripped tightly in hand.

Water slid over the sides and into the boat, 

their boots got soaked straight through.

The hump back then made its way 

towards the rip tide breaching and heaving a deep 

sigh from its blowhole which seemed to carry 

all the sorrow of the world in its tremor.

When the boys returned to shore

they didn;t speak, the only sound

was the belly of the boat 

being dragged over sand as they carried her

up to rest near the dunes.

Summer turned to Fall 

and the boys found some nice girls 

and went out with them most nights

forgetting the little putter boat

and the night they saw the whale

the night they touched the center of the earth

and felt its great sadness and wonder 

tremble in their small chests.