Virtues of Whales, #65

The body washed ashore, turned
belly up. We, the whole town
showed up, rounded it, blubber
gleaming in the waxing light,
water, mucus layered on.
By noon, the body started
to dry, to bake. The whole town
began to push, hope against
hope, tried to nudge the mountain
back into the sea, but time
would have none of it. The mount
rolled back into depression,
weighed its body into sand.

When the townspeople tired
and the sun went down, we
met in the church, to discuss
plans, tools needed, resources.
A call was placed to the state
commissioner, governor,
game warden, all pledged
support for whatever we,
the townspeople decided.
We prayed for a miracle
tide to arrive by morning,
prayed that the great beast’s body,
would be lifted and released.

Before we could reach the beach
at dawn the smell wafted up
to meet us, smell that only
the VFW men
could place. A body sunken
under its own weight, dug down
into the sand, the odor
of decaying flesh, a tongue
laid across the beach, crumpled
like an old bed sheet spread out
for miles, our vain prayers
themselves fallen on deaf ears,
the beast would not be removed.

The day molded to the sounds
of cranes, dozers, ropes, tugboats
at sea, but now the body
was a third buried in sand
and every bright idea seemed
to lead to further sinking.
Businesses sent men with saws
to retrieve the steaks, but once
they cut into the body,
saw they were late. By nightfall
all our ideas seemed nothing
but a great and dead smelling
mess, a mountain of mistakes.

On the third day, the odor
permeated the whole town,
nothing was drunk or eaten.
No one could think of a plan,
until a child asked why,
after three days we had not
buried the dead. And the men
with their shovels and pickups
went down to the beach, and dug
beside the beast a deep hole
and nudged the whale down in.
All this time, the earth waited
and welcomed the cherub home.

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A day is not done, until it's filled with words.

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