If Moby Dick Was A Woman
The sea swells open. The ship capsizes, finally, all her wood splintering. All people drown eventually, the water coming to claim what’s hers: she widens her maw, and drinks.
Mourn, perhaps. How long do you think she’ll wait for a day that will never come? Her gaze lingers on the skyline as your children play with the waves that took you. When do you think she’ll accept that she’ll never see you again—in a year? five? when you left home all that time ago saying you were going out to sea?
In the absence, inevitably, a ship becomes a mother. Carpentry becomes body, planks a rib-cage playground for her boys—they are still boys, after all, playing at harpoons and twine. They weigh her down with whale-corpses and pile oil-coffins in her heart. She keeps them afloat. She wears her bones proudly. There’s no haunting without a woman at its center.
Rest, at last. Put to bed your salt-laced dreams, your ocean reveries. Tuck your bones into sand and silt. Sleep: in the waves nothing much changes.
Your water-logged woman pulls you close as you sink together down to slumber, All sail and mast, bone and steel, salt and current. Her embrace crushes the breath from your lungs. She holds on to you, or maybe you just never let go. Salt beneath your eyelids and filling your mouth now. The current says, yes, and welcomes you to her depths.
Don’t think of your land-locked girl; she’s a million miles away. Distance weathers memory, wears down its sharp edges and scatters it to the wind. As for me, I’ve long forgotten the sound of your footsteps coming home. I don’t miss what I’ve already lost.
I think that Moby Dick must be a woman. She swallows violence like so many sailors. Can you undo the clasps and hooks of her ghost-whale bones, and crawl into her abdomen?