Canadian Poetry Online top banner link to Canadian Poetry Online home page link to University of Toronto Libraries home page

Visiting the Whales

Ron Charach
From:   Past Wildflowers. Quarry Press, 1997


Oh those disappearing, reappearing tails . . .
Motoring into Massachussets Bay on the Portuguese Princess,
on a salt-spray day, we forget that we awoke
in separate beds.
Our hearts clamour for the high drama
on the cover of the brochure, a whale breeching
an almighty third of its body thrusting from the water.

But what if a leviathan rises under our boat?
You hush me: "They're not stupid.
Quite the opposite."
Though we learn, ten minutes out, that the last group
saw a whale with propellor marks on its back.
"Since we turn off our motors and coast
it couldn't have been one of our boats. . . ."
It's humpbacks we're after, smaller than the great blues,
killers or baleens, but active,
shooting whooshy spray out a blowhole,
a "whalatosis", quips our round-faced guide.

A sighting! We are not alone!
Two rubber submarines in synchrony,
massive faces black-barnacled,
rotate in slow motion
to display their sleek white flippers.
One rolls over to show
his broad and polished black back,
then launches a tremendous snort
of living spume!

"Honey, you missed it!"
"Well, someone's got to take her to the bathroom!"
That's what comes of making eyes at the sunrise,
first glimmerings of long days
pouring juice, drying tears, treading water . . .
She gets fewer nightmares than I do,
can go down sooner, for longer,
so that we always sleep in tandem.
By day we settle for a tidiness,
a comfort of perfect yellow bedspreads
tucked around crisp
white sheets.
But oh, those flashing tails!


Ron Charach's works copyright © to the author.


Canadian Poetry Online bottom banner link to University of Toronto Libraries home page link to Digital Collections home page link to University of Toronto Library catalogue link to Canadian Poetry Online home page link to University of Toronto Libraries home page