Upon Discovering a Decaying Whale Carcass on the Beach in December

Poetry

After the harpoon has twisted itself into my back and has been pulled free, I begin to decay. My lungs no longer full with air, but with the remnants of saltwater and sand and chum.

Poetry by Jennifer Thal


After the harpoon has twisted itself into my back and has been pulled free, I begin to decay. My lungs no longer full with air, but with the remnants of saltwater and sand and chum. What is left of me sinks down to the bottom among discarded carcasses too rotted to eat, gouged holes in my stomach and spine and I rest among the dead, the ruins of beasts once great and fearsome. 

How funny it is that I was afraid of being compared to a whale while above ground, when under the surface where sunlight weakens and splutters and spits into darkness, a whale is the greatest being you could be, bigger is better and everyone and everything is my feast.

How many blows has this great beast taken and healed from, scar tissue pock-marked and worn proudly? How many boats has it brought down and feasted with satisfaction? I have only once brought down a boat and I feasted with satisfaction, small mouths gaping at my terror, but now I can only watch as the Fisherman’s blade slices me open and takes what I have taken from him in an act of feral vengeance. He, too, drags my carcass onto the beach, cold and rasping against my pores and sharp shells break and fracture my flesh. Upon land I am rendered a spectacle taking up too much space, and I watch as others clean up my wreck of a body.

My beachy brethren, marooned and moored, will be dragged away and be left as a giant imprint on the beach, to be covered by more sand washed upon the shore by nightfall.  


Jennifer Thal is 25 years old and from outside of Philadelphia. She is a current student at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology in Chicago pursuing her doctorate in Clinical Psychology. Her work has appeared on The Esthetic Apostle, Typishly, and Haunted Waters Press. She enjoys reading at open mic nights, advocating for body positivity, and empowering her readers through her writing.


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