At 2,000 Feet

 

 
 

“…unfathomable waters; and afloat the vast bulk of him
is out of sight.” —
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

 

Turning back and back

on the small egg of the light

—blue in its bare intensity,

locus of the camera—how at home,

curving and unclumsy,

 

huge leather head, small eye,

old white gouge (a voice says

“propeller scar”), then out of the dark

its fin (so small, the bones of which

almost exactly answer to the bones

of the human hand), then

its side and side and side and later

(slow, as if stopped, floating, to watch

a windmarked bay) the tail,

gently, the flukes (broad palms),

sweeping particles of lightless drift,

then black. And the whirring heart

 

of the probe, the lens’s

jerky head, the voices of the team

sprung giddy from their job’s

entombment (“He’s trying

to figure us out”). Melville knew

 

the dragging and stabbing (the monster

horribly wallowed in his blood), the long warp

of the carcass flattened

and leaking, lashed,

ship listing over its haul. He never saw

 

the whale entire, eye-level,

unchased (undashed pride

of hull and spars) like this,

 

in the camera, whole

and curious,

the great breath held more

than an hour, and up there,

no captain with iron tip

(out of the nail-stubs

from horseshoes) waiting

for the spout,

the sound.

 
 
 
 

 

Amy Miller’s poetry has appeared in Camas, Rattle, Spillway, Willow Springs, and ZYZZYVA. Her chapbooks include I Am on a River and Cannot Answer (BOAAT Press) and Rough House (White Knuckle Press). She won the Cultural Center of Cape Cod National Poetry Competition, judged by Tony Hoagland, and the Jack Grapes Poetry Prize from Cultural Weekly, and has been a finalist for the Pablo Neruda Prize and 49th Parallel Award. She lives in Oregon. writers-island.blogspot.com.