Watching

This is what happened when

a twenty-three-year-old humpback

threw herself out of the water:

the guide told us that breaching

is inexplicable, and that she herself

once tried to lob her body out of its context.

We hooted when our whale

hit her white tail against the sea surface.

It makes me want to cry, a woman said.

A line of red blood ran down a man’s ankle

from an old wound, recently disturbed,

maybe by the ship—it sent us all into each other.

We stepped on feet, grasped strange shoulders—

there weren’t enough rails to hold.

Girls in identical dresses used their hands to keep

skirts from becoming inverted umbrellas:

they staggered. The guide said in her ponytailed

voice, whale tails are like fingerprints.

We jostled each other

as the black tire back rolled into and out of our air

and the intersection tail split the horizon.

Finally, there was the full whale,

whose largeness was still unseen

even when the body came before us.

We stretched our cameras and

tried to keep out the whorls of fingers.

 

Ariel Katz is a senior in Morse College.

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