Poetry: The Whale by Evan Wang
There is an earnestness to the inward reflection that comes from the boy in this poem, who is moved by a whale. He slowly uncovers the hatred of men, the fear of what one might become, and the urge to love instead of harm, as he observes the whale in motion.
born into it, their wispy clouds cutting
barnacles away from your underside,
holding you in still life. I watched
from below, the sky burning with
I traced myself through for a better view
of your flippers, cleaving air like love.
You were singing your song, incapable
of damage. But lately, foreign whalers
from cities I have only heard of, never seen,
whisper that your heart holds miles, weighs
you swam, there was a man you descended
for, streetlights brushing up against
the soft animal of your parted lips. He slept
within your vessels—cavernous with life—
drinking blood as you ferried him
to the edge. There, he drove a calloused
harpoon through your make-believe blubber.
Listen, in our lives, there is always a man
to be hated. In mine, it will never be
your turn. I know this because you know
if I’m yet evil. Stay far away enough
to close enough to see me standing below
in a street at midnight, head cocked up,
admiring an unruined animal pretending
to be human. You can hide in this. Here,
I can blame my whole world on you.
Here is love, and it’s not an ocean.
Here is a piece of me that will do
王潇/Evan Wang is the first Youth Poet Laureate of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Journal, RHINO, Rust + Moth, and elsewhere. He is the 2023 Jacklyn Potter Young Poet and the current Editor-in-Chief of Hominum Journal. His work has been featured at and recognized by Button Poetry, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Philadelphia Contemporary, and Wawa Welcome America.