The Great Whale

Isaac Hogarth

a sudden coldness brings attention to the heavens
there, the Great Whale blots out the sun
from brushy lips pours Her song
reminiscent of those deep sea jazz singers
with tight dresses and loose suits
or of those coral reef operatic androgynes with painted white faces
She tells me how much it hurts, asks me to take it away

swimming amongst celestial bodies, fins
dispersing nebulae like petrol-scented candles blown out by the retiring
monk
the Great Whale sings and She cries, creating a biblical downpour
saltwater teardrops, fallen angels
from the ancient eyes of the Goddess of Song and Dance and Maternity

what have we done?
She breaches the cosmos
exposing Her bleeding underside
breathy streams of starlight wine flowing into galaxies near and far
Her song now reminds one
of those folk singers with dead spouses
and sad eyes
trapped under ice sheets, the masses cruelly skating above them
if only we’d heard Her song sooner

the Great Whale suffers the same indignity
fat businesspeople with swollen lips
twisted in an endless spiralling wormhole grin
leer out from behind asteroids
step into their bladed-boots, and slide across the black matter
dancing about Her like a team of figure skaters in the sky

perhaps our indifference for Earth’s giants began when david slew goliath

perhaps it began
when extinction became a headline
when ash fell on the jetty
and smoke clogged the air
in red twilight months

perhaps it began
when kings and queens and khansi
and chancellors and chairmen
turned their faces away
from the sea

the star-skaters continue their revelry
drink from the lifeblood of Earth
spin
snort
suck at Her punctured hull
they discover the secret of time-travel
disappear into wormholes
then grow old and die
leaving behind a broken world where nothing grows

deep sea jazz singers drown
coral reef operatics impale themselves upon bleached pikes
ice-sheet folk singers freeze
the Great Whale now sings in a style
that Her heavenly brothers and sisters have not yet deigned to share with us
evoking at once
the coexistence between the shark and the remora
the depravity of the trawler and the haul
the Great Whale uses Her dying breaths to tell me that we have failed Her

Her heart slows
liberation from gravity exhausted
the Great Whale
plummets back to the Earth
the centrepiece amongst the thousand corpses of its offspring
bobbing lifelessly just off the headland
the sea now stained a guilty red
much like that of
rosy cheeks
dying stars
carnations

sharks busy themselves about the Great Whale’s husk
mad in their frenzy, thankful for it
coastal kingdoms are swallowed vengefully by the sea
dolphins pay their respects to the Great Whale
then swim willingly into the cavernous maw of megalodon
who have come from an ancient place to say farewell
to the last of the ocean’s songbirds
distant ships turn back home:
there is nothing left to harpoon
The outline of a whale surrounded by stars and moons.