Although the channel was off limits,
he was steering there. For the tip jar to fill,
they had to see whales. The baby whale backflipped
away from its mother. From the sundeck, this was clear.
That single breath geysered too close to the boat.
Like this —he’d said
rocking his hands side to side—how the boat shook
when the whale and its mother swam under the hull.
Like a mini-van & double wide bus. It took time
to cut the engines, he’d said after a gulp of Sam Adams.
Sitting next to him at the dive bar,
I could picture those white-pleated torpedoes.
That velvet rushing toward four-blade propellers.
It was useless to ask him if the whales’ skin
had been scraped or deeply gashed. He was swallowed
by the oh/oh/oh from a coterie of tank tops,
buying rounds to salute that onboard day.
I heard him say: Who will cruise with me tomorrow?
Vivian Eyre is a New York-based poet and the author of the poetry chapbook To the Sound (Finishing Line Press). Her poems have been in The Massachusetts Review, The Fourth River, Moon City Review, Quiddity, Pangyrus, Spire, Bellingham Review, Asheville Poetry Review, Buddhist Poetry Journal. She serves as the guest curator for the Southold Historical Museum’s Whale House, and rescue volunteer for cold stun sea turtles on the shores of Long Island.