New Poetry by Francine Cunningham: “Whales can’t save us all—but they try”


The child waits,

drawn with shaky fingers
the thick lines of a blue whale’s eyes come into focus
out of the abyss of the great white ocean
the form is coaxed into being
and with the life ink has given stretches its fins

scratchy and ruthless the strokes of the pen dig into the paper
tearing tiny holes into the surface of the water
but nonetheless,
the whale grins as bubbles tickle its thick heavy body

the sound of thudding boots on carpet makes its thunderous arrival outside the door
and still the child waits
shoulders hunched around ears
eyes trained on the figure
silent in the middle of the page

a splinter of sound against the door
the pen lifts, the child listens
thrashing in the stagnant water
the whale gasps for the breath of true life
follicled mouth
begging for movement

the pen smashes down against the eye
and in desperation, blots more black against it
willing it to see, to see, to see
to witness
and for a moment out of the blackness
there is a hazy figure, blue paint, red carpet, pictures shaking against the wall

but then suddenly the pen digs too deep
crashes through
and the whale sinks
deeper, deeper, deeper
until neither can see
only wait


these words by Francine Cunningham were inspired by the work of Daphne Boyer

Published by

Word and Colour

words inspired by colour

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