The weft makes no sound. Like whales when not singing. The whales in the currents, the corridor of drifting, whale-adrift, a free whale, a Loose-Fish. The laws of the sea apply. Set the guns. The tribal season. Whale-at-large. The long boats aside. Pull up. At the stern --
And the weft unravels, trailing threads into the abyssal plain, the funnel of seagreen, plankton, escort rays, spooling deeper, past light and half-light and dim-light, where the herds plod and snort, the whale-herds, unbound, roaming the bottomless prairies as far as the eye can see.
Try-pots and tar and spermaceti. The good stuff. The sunburn is what I mean. The gull. The Dall's porpoises riding wake and churn. And the fabric of the saltair. Knotted with storm petrel and murrelet and shearwater and booby. Who mans the nest. Who is on watch in the blare of sea, where the sea sets, where the planets and satellites are swamped by wave edges, and the last of us fall asleep.
The land comes too soon. Morning.
The scabbed hand over the weft, leading it away. Point at the plunging whale, buttress-headed, a continent swerving, bulwark and promontory, the whale just swinging under the timbers -- whales in threes and twos, whales in strings. The silent whales seen from national parks, ridges, marinas. Whale-pets. Trained whales. Trick whales. Gone.
One can lead a whale through the eye of a needle...
Elbow-deep in whale song. Gutting it. Splitting the ribs, drying its silly flippers, the limp tail. And the head a great auditorium, an athenaeum, the skull an observatory or planetarium. And the stars projected there! The scrimshaw as yet uncarved, the stories gathering steam. The voices that would echo had they been given voice.
Ever further. The spiraling line. The weft is quiet as it scuttles sidelong, crabwise. Between the yarns, the whale story is spun. How many fish in its intestines. How many 'poons in its flanks. How hispid its baleen. Across all reason and need. What is need in this terrible, blistering place. Make a tarpaulin to ward off the heat. Keep the oil to a desperate boil.
Before we had a chance the beast was upon us. No reflex, no scream. A soundless drowning, just the gurgle of water in the tubes, of water-inflation, of a brief aquatic respiration. Did we take on knowledge, then, of the marauder? Did we gain that mute rage, that forgetfulness?
Whale after whale. Like nameless tides. Something we expect to happen and be done. Tides that bring in all the rest of our waste.
But picture the numbers at the canyons of the waters. Picture bleak, dark bodies drifting, blotting out the depths, at the depths, tremendous depths. Ear-splitting. Skull-detonating. Take the sea in your lungs and sink. Keep watch. And picture the thousands. The delicate tonnage.
Over and under and past. The whales never touch.
About the author:
Darren Higgins's work has been published in The Stranger, Tablet, The American Journal of Print, and Exquisite Corpse. One of his stories was included in The Rendezvous Reader, an anthology of Northwest writing. Darren lives in Seattle. This is his second story on Pindeldyboz.