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Whether the whale piloted

by Christen Thomas


It wasn't clear to the Islanders

whether the whale piloted

in pursuit of death,

or chased in a school of fish

until beached on the reef.


And though it might have chosen

suicide over surrender,

on a rock where lives were carved from the land,

life was fought for and not let so freely go.


A scraped fin appeared

on a hawk-eyed, mid-morning stroll

during a Spring tide

under the remnants of Cosmo's moon.


Fifteen men, wives and child

waded and laid water over

the seal-scratched belly of the beast.


Hand stitched family quilts

were submerged and draped across

the whale's sea-rubber skin.


It gathered in and passed air,

shuddered against tossed offerings of brine,

raised a glistening eye to second-hand survival.


By the immersion suited crew, the creature

was netted beneath and pulled to the sea

when the tide returned to the beach.


Off-kilter, careening like a junkyard truck

the fins rightened themselves

and with the wake of the tale,

broken water, rebirth.