THE WHALE BOAT
© Zondrae King
Winner, 2011 FAWNS Vibrant Verse Competition, Fellowship of Australian Writers, North Shore, Sydney NSW.
These weary planks are faded now. My ribs are full of worm
and barnacles foul underneath my hull.
I lay here in this mud, there is no choice, I must confirm,
that I am now a roost for any gull.
How many years of service did I faithfully complete?
My memory and age are clear no more.
I had in mind a number, thirty years, was no mean feat
and now I settle, rotting, by the shore.
The times that I remember, are from days when I was new,
just fitted out with whaling as the prize.
I felt those men of Eden, raise the oars. That faithful crew
took every care that we did not capsize.
The blood they spilt beside my hull, turned seas a crimson red.
I saw a silent eye‘s bewildered look.
The harpoon made the mortal wound from which the victim bled.
Such painful dying, and how long it took!
My ribs have strained beneath the weight of many seasons catch.
My gunwales bear these scratches from the pier
but these were small indignities compared with this dispatch,
abandoned with the water, oh so near.
The night birds roost all over me and foul the last few planks
that, clinker built, made up my outer skin.
The deck is gone, where clumsy feet, and those of lowly ranks
sat, heels dug in, and sweated in the din.
With western wind the waves arise and loudly lap my side,
mere mimic of a mighty tail’s thump.
I’ll end my days beside the bay, not drifting on the tide.
They’ve stripped me bare, removed the water pump.
While overhead the gulls screech on, though they’re no longer fed
the scraps, as men begin to carve the kill.
My decks were washed with blood. The stench of death can foster dread
as lower down the scuppers flushed with swill.
One dark and dreadful night, as fog descended through the air
and senses of the crew were dull with rum,
from in the mist, another boat, full broadside, hit me square
one deathly blow. To fate I must succumb.
Oh why did they not leave me there to wear that foamy pall,
to lay with Davey Jones forever more
but, no, their minds were only for themselves and for their haul.
They dragged me here to this ungodly shore.
I’m stranded here in Limbo, not ashore and not afloat.
These reeds support my bulk, become my hearse.
Where two times every day I am tormented by the rote
of water’s ebb and flow. It is a curse.
As fungus, rot and barnacles eat at my very core,
I see the whaling boats no longer run.
My planks achieve full circle and the whalers are no more.
Again the universe and I are one.