On Cape Disappointment
by Sara Clancy

Call me Jonah, instead.
I walked the wide rib
of the whale and found this haunted
curve, this other coast.

Yes, I have known continents
their names rise like anthems:
Finback, Sei, Great Blue.

Nights I slide into the sea,
breached by his myth, naked
elements of consequence
swell with explanation;
the krill clinging to my hair.


His reasons are simple
as weight. Simply fear
relative to size. He won’t talk
equations and will not sing me
his sonorous history.
That is too easy a grief.

Instead he reveals
a black shadow skimming,
the need to kill or be swallowed,
a truth.


It’s a small story now.
Here on the gray lip of the shore
I carve my own blind migration
in the scrimshaw of words,
a biography that ends
in the answering chord
of his deep blues.

In return I offer harbor
and these elegies,
these whale poems,
dragged like great gray bones
to an empty beach.

— (winner of the Goodreads Poetry Contest, July 2011)

IMAGE: “Jonah and the Whale Ceramic Wall Art” by artinclay2011, available at etsy.com.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Inspired by Herman Melville’s Moby Dick (1851).

Sara Clancy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sara Clancy is a Philadelphia transplant to the Desert Southwest. She is an Associate Editor for Poetry at Kentucky Review and, among other places, her poems have appeared in The Linnet’s WingsThe Avatar Review, Crab Creek Review, The Madison Review, The Smoking Poet, RE-VERSE, Verse Wisconsin, Main Street Rag, Antiphon, Turtle Island Quarterly, Antiphon, and Houseboat, where she was a featured poet. She lives in Arizona with her husband, two dogs, a cat, and a 23-year-old goldfish named Darryl.