Imagine our fantasies about them are true,
that they really had refined their songs
into a melody of words,
merged their herds into tribes,
invented politics, became aware of death,
and now yearn for a faith.
All their feelings are expressed lyrically
and through the flux of pressure waves.
Comrades swim in tight formation.
Soon a whale messiah, a supreme bard, summons the wayward,
singing that none should swim alone,
each should buoy the other in his slipstream.
In a world of motion,
this messiah's call travels the deepest currents across the oceans,
and all whaledom gathers and sways as he moves,
and is anointed by the gentle touch of his fluke.
The common prayer, a breach into the air.
They feel the winds which, by their creed,
sail upward to the inverted blue sea.
The clouds are worshiped as the sprays of ancestors.
Purgatory is the rocky shore,
the shoals pressed hard against their breasts
in a world where hardness is unknown
except at the end of their lives.
But their bard sees
beyond the dry terrain to the most distant shore
where the heavenly sea curves down to the land.
He sings of their loved ones who have washed ashore,
those ancestors who crawled on earth,
their sins scraped away by sand and stone
till they reach the horizon of the heavenly sea.
There they rise again, swimming upward,
breaching, spouting, filling the air with clouds,
while below those left behind
swim together with their bard.
In their world the living and the eternally living
swim in tandem across parallel seas.
So now we're down to talking about the weather.
Once we spoke in run on sentences.
Now we strain for words and, on finding them,
recite them like a rosary
chanted by a disillusioned old priest.
What supper do we celebrate tonight? Our last?
If we both want to leave shouldn't we do it quickly?
But neither of us will betray the other,
yet we still kiss.
The kettle boils; we drum our fingers.
We wallow in politeness and pour the tea.
To pass the time I've heated this knife.
It glows now, too hot for slicing bread.
Oh, shut the flame, forget the tea.
I'll plunge the blade in cold water.
Better that this cooling be finished
in a quick loud hiss.