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Five Poems ANTHONY CALESHU The Honor and Glory of Whaling Tonight, when you wake, I bring in my copy of Moby-Dick. At first, you do not seem impressed with the honor and glory of whaling: no debate about the what and where of a whale’s skin or the scientific feat of the beheading can redeem the powerless panic of the lost colossal. I hold you over my shoulder and you twist your face and hands, like the cannibal Queequeg. ‘Corkscrew!’ I shout, which brings you to shout, for we desire the same thing. Language will not come between us. I slip you sidewise and you drink from the goblet socket of your harpoon. Whale Watching Ever since you were born, I have been re-reading; I am blinded by excessive marks of punctuation. I use them in order to pause where I like: in the supermarket in front of the cereals or two-for-one prawns; on the dual carriage way on the way to Dartington to walk you under the river oaks. Yesterday, it was February and when we pulled back the curtains A version of these poems appears in “Of Whales: in Print, in Paint, in Sea, in Stars, in Coin, in House, in Margins” (Salt, 2010). c  2012 The Melville Society and Wiley Periodicals, Inc. 46 L E V I A T H A N A J O U R N A L O F M E L V I L L E S T U D I E S A N T H O N Y C A L E S H U we saw it was still dark and our car was still shining under the sodium street lamp and the neighborhood watch sticker. I could tell you were wondering whose car you were in, and whose room I was in, whose house we two were in, shuffling between floors, from bedroom to kitchen, stepping in and out of sleep, as if in and out of seasons. I don’t have to tell you that it has been a long Winter. I promise you this: when we go to sea we will wear hats and stand starboard as sailors. We will ride waves and watch for whales sounding on the horizon, silent as our thoughts. Those of us who are awake and above water have little right to have salt blown in our faces, but we feel it nonetheless. Already it is May. I rock you in my arms like a comma. Wonderfullest Thing At this point we know that the white whale we’ve been tracking has nothing to do with revenge. Each chapter is another chapter in landlessness. Earlier we were reminded that along the Lee Shore we must forever push off into yet another tempestuous term. And maybe this is it then: that wonderfullest thing which is ever unmentionable. . . I take stock of you like a second heart, a third lung. I hold you tighter than either of us knows except the window: an opening of threats and longings, of flying and falling. In this routine of night, I hand you over to another set of arms. In bed alone, I am shoreless when you go quiet and as indefinite as god. Last Voyage I sailed with thee along the Peruvian Coast last voyage, and foolish as I am, you taught me how to splice a rope. A J O U R N A L O F M E L V I L L E S T U D I E S 47 F I V E P O E M S The whales we followed were white waves breaking over various hues of blue. I lost you to a cloud of birds and the spray of an unexpected waterfall. I’d never invested in rope-walks or tight-ropes; I had no knowledge of how to dive for depth. I rejected sea level for a bird’s-eye view. Hitherto, whereof? Alone in the bathroom, I found the alarm had been tampered with. . . the smell of damp, iron-rich soil and a small fire in the basin. The air hostess with her hair in an elaborate bun said there...


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