chapter 42. The Whiteness of the Whale. remade as a poem. Michael Lythgoe.

Michael Lythgoe


On Melville’s White Chapter In Moby Dick

…Lima has taken the white veil; and there is a higher horror in this whiteness of her woe. –-Herman Melville


Every hunter tracks his obsession.

I once was a sailor who learned the sea

is rituals & knots. To survive was my compulsion–

to listen, to read the harpoonist’s skin, study

Queequeg’s tattoos like a nautical chart;

I was blind; Ahab’s goal was not oil.

Jonah prayed as prey–swallowed by the dark.

Our predator sought vengeance the color of wool:

A white battering ram; whale as holy

Sepulcher, sacred buffalo, albino

Flame, a ghostly hole, albatross–ivory,

Not ebony. Ahab’s dreams wore a marble

Pallor; like Lucifer he hunts his  prey.

Lucifer’s peg-leg broke in breakers today.

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