How is Mortal Man to Account for It?

by Devon Balwit Issue: 2022 Special Issue on Identity

 

[T]here yet lurks an elusive something in the innermost idea of this hue
-Melville

 

Ishmael, the whale’s eyes are placed so it cannot see 
itself. It doesn’t know of its uncanny 

pallor. Its notions come from staring at other whales
and concluding how it too must be. Small

wonder it blunders, then feels the punishing
harpoon-thrusts in its hide before fleeing

back to safer solitude. There
it’s just another denizen of murk,

shielded from peering and positing.
How is mortal man to account for it, our thinking

always butting up against the ribs
of the leaky paradigms we travel in, crib

to grave? Am I alone in wanting the whale
to escape even its most determined whaler?  



Devon Balwit

Devon Balwit (she/her/hers) has written poems and reviews which can be found in The Worcester Review, The Cincinnati Review, Tampa Review, Barrow Street, Tar River Poetry, Sugar House Review, Poetry South, saltfront, Rattle and Grist among others. Her newest collections are Rubbing Shoulders with the Greats (Seven Kitchens Press 2020) and Dog-Walking in the Shadow of Pyongyang (Nixes Mate Books, 2021).