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.

The Whale

for David

Every sky held you like you were
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
blush. In my restless city full of time,

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

as heavy as distance. The last time
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
me. I am a boy, and I don’t 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
no harm.

Evan Wang

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.

Close Menu