THERE’S SOMETHING I WANTED TO TELL YOU, BUT THIS ISN’T THAT
Deal with the uncertainty, and start over.
But no matter, you make him from clay.
Sculpt the tail the way you would a beak;
as a soft thing meant to survive. This will be
an heirloom left on your mother’s mantle. Then
yours, and a daughter’s perhaps.
Craft the beast with care. Clean out the belly
like a fisherman. Twin babes pile up
beside you, but don’t look as they die,
drying into decay. Cracks map them the same way
they do your mother’s hands after a day in the garden,
tainted with thyme and fennel and sage.
Next, pluck green buds from the section of shrub
cut from your front yard, just beneath the bay window.
Your mother will notice all too soon, but for today,
it’s necessary. Set the small nibs aside to steep
in hot water. In vinegar. Take the twigs to detail.
Be tender at the fluke; paper thin now.
Marvel at the idea of power derived from fragility before
breaking the ceramic bone. Begin again. What then
does the whale need of a turbine anyway? Once more.
Suppose it’s about the balance. Now is not the time to add
feathers. Skim slip from the barrel, enough to attach
the appropriate appendage. You speak the name as incantation:
caudal peduncle. And you make it mean more with a whispered
intention, poised inflection. Arise, arise. Third time is not a charm
to disguise, but a diligence demanded by your mother
and hers. Maybe this is all you need to dash such dreams
of doing more than just
Mold a mother from newborn clay,
still set aside from before. Bury the being in the belly
before sealing together where the edges
meet. Know it takes nothing more than clay
to close wounds you’ve already hollowed.
Whether the whale endures the years,
you’ll never admit this effigy imprisoned inside.
It won’t be a prayer, but a lie to comfort
and cradle long through the next three days and
nights. Now drape the whale in damp
paper towels, slow the drying until the kiln can claim