by Christina Frei
Remember when we watched for the whale,
unsteady and queasy on our sea legs, encased
in fluttering nylon ponchos for hours on end?
And all I could think of was how the engine
would be corrupting her peaceful world,
how under the boat she’d be shaking her huge head
at our persistence, waiting for us to leave
so she could finally come up for air. Like the time
I hid in the bookshop, in the do-it-yourself section,
wondering if you would try to find me (you searched
but not in the right place). You once said
there was an artist inside everyone, waiting
for a chance to enthrall. Even the whale
has issued a CD of her songs. Some people swear
it helps them cope with life. I was shy,
a clumsy humpback or maybe a quiet beluga,
while you were the fearless orca. I confess,
I was pretending to be someone else
when I was with you, dreading the day you’d blow
my cover, force the real me into the open.
Putting an ocean between us helped,
its vast saltiness obscuring an uncharted terrain
of creatures who scale craters with lantern eyes.
Time does not heal, only licks its wounds
while observing from a distance, me in the audience,
you in the spotlight. I’d ponder the past
from this side of the Atlantic forever if I could,
lose my way in murky black currents,
while the sea turns to white-capped silvered jade
wherever you are. Not until our feet returned to asphalt,
did the whale somersault to the surface.
Her ecstatic leaps like epiphanies, barnacle-jeweled
flanks sparkling as they breeched the limits
of her world, an inverted meteor shooting upward
into moonlight, a diva bellowing discordant groans
and screaks in a virtuoso performance liberated by solitude.
About Christina Frei
Christina Frei‘s poetry has appeared in journals including the Red River Review, Turbulence Magazine, Bareback, Apple Valley Review, the Inflectionist Review, Kansas City Voices, Sterling Magazine, Jersey Devil Press, Illya’s Honey, Emerge Literary Journal, and The MacGuffin. She was nominated for a Best of the Net award in 2013, two Pushcart prizes, and a Best New Poets award.