Orca by B.T. Joy


An orca is circling the boat.
Its dark, sheening skull buffets on the wood.
But it doesn’t want to love
any more than it wants not to love.

It’s night. Stars are on the sound
and that great mammal belts the black-paddle
of its fin against the phosphorescent tide;
though not in friendship.

Rilke said: Daphne said,
while transforming into a laurel tree,
that we were to mimic the wind. But only
certain animals have learned the trick.

Tonight a wind of muscle and wet skin
rocks and bites against the hull. And every now and then
the whale turns over the mass of his grace and slides,
through the surface, pectorals the shape of laurel leaves.

The flesh beneath his gurning throat
is as white as Bernini’s Daphne. His mind is a skim
of narrow inlet washed in wind and his simplicity
reminds me of the fetish I’ve made out of thinking.

I’ve sat blind, under shield-walls of red conifers,
by bodies of water so still they caught the sky.
I’ve heard what a silent mountain is and watched
as a deer leads backwards into folds of fog.
But I still know nothing, except what follows:

When I’m out in the open, like this, my head and chest
become parts of a boat; and nature,
something that neither loves nor hates me.
Something, that is only curious, beating its body
quietly on my body.


Published by

Jeremiah Walton

Jeremiah Walton is wary of writing a bio.

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