Poetry: The Whale by Cassandra Farrin

Cassandra Farrin’s poem rustles with the sound of waves and devils. “The Whale” is exactly how you make surprising a literary figure so well known as to be automatically cliche in lesser hands. Let the lines fill your mouth with brine and flame, the white space like gaps between the waves, the Whale: freshly ambiguous.


The Whale

Born bright, a lemon jarred+++in brine and oil pales;
so it was with me+++in the deep,
but this is a darker matter.+++Say of me “men dream and drown,”
an unfathomable vastness, adrift.+++Who lives who impales the moon?
Would you cradle the devil+++in bottles and fonts,
hawk perfume and the clean-burning flame+++of a demon?
Up close I’m no delicacy;+++prized from afar,
now I’m a tusk+++a battering ram+++a shroud.
The Sun isn’t gold;+++neither am I.
We both brood in an airless space+++in secret, burn—
He on high+++I in the depths,
both tow an ill-fated crew+++to a common end
caught up as by a madman’s whim.+++Call me what I am.



Cassandra Farrin

Cassandra Farrin is a poet, adoptive parent, and editor of nonfiction books on the history of religion. Her writing has appeared in Cirqueconcīs, the Plath Poetry Project, the Ploughshares blog, and elsewhere. Learn more about her on the blog Ginger & Sage (ginger-and-sage.org) and on Twitter: @CassaCassaCassa.

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