The Whaler

Rachel Richardson


               (Susan Miller Jackson, 1918-2010)


There’s video now
of anything she desires: a prow, a view
of the ragged coast receding, ropes wound

around the cleat, smooth curve of sanded planks
along a sun-warmed deck.

Names catch in the crevices
on the way to her brain—
but her eyes, yellowed and milky, still

focus on the bow and the compass; her hands
still reach for the wheel.

Here’s the spouting of a pod,
here’s a breach, here the fish that follow
in a wake of blood.

Every morning I bring her my offerings—
little treasures from the morning surf.

We watch the sailors, the whales, the endless waves,
until she looks up from her hospital cot,
surveying the sky for fair winds,

drifting into blue,
preparing herself for the voyage.