ISSUE 2 · SPRING 2009
Marcus & The Whale
One week after high school,
two months before going to the Middle East War,
Marcus saw a whale for the first time.
He was south of San Francisco
sitting on a patch of scraggly crabgrass
on a rock on a cliff,
bare feet dangling over the Pacific,
gazing at cloud shadows flickering across the dirt
as if they were in a hurry to get somewhere
“It’s dead,” said Private Bob Brewer
Marcus shaded his eyes
against glare coated water.
Tangles of red-brown kelp
surged back and forth
with the ocean’s rhythm.
And there, twenty yards from shore,
atop partially submerged rocks,
lay the whale.
They half-walked, half-slid
down the forty-foot incline to the shoreline,
sat in the sand,
leaned against the thick trunk of a dead cypress,
sipped whiskey from Private Bob’s dented flask,
kept an eye on the whale.
Hovering gulls polluted the air with screams.
Rolling waves made gray skin jiggle
like the rump of a horse
irked by blood-sucking flies.
Marcus closed his eyes,
let the flood of sunlight stroke his face,
considered the tiny white and blue streaking lights
dancing on the inside of his lids.
brushed off a large black ant,
scratched the bite on his ankle.
Private Bob stood there,
side-armed with a short wind-up.
Rocks as smooth as velvet
skipped across foamy surface,
ricocheted off gray skin,
scattered feasting gulls.
Before Marcus could put an end to it,
a large wave crashed against the whale.
Huge stomach sack
squeezed through a rent under the flipper,
spilled into the ocean,
bobbed against its owner.
Ribs snapped under their own weight,
and Marcus watched in disbelief
as the gigantic whale deflated.
A sister wave freed the carcass from the rock
and after a while, it caught a current
and drifted toward Honolulu,
stomach sack in tow.
Ron D'Alena was born in San Francisco, earned an MBA at the University of San Francisco, and now lives in Southern Oregon with his wife and son. His work has appeared and is forthcoming in numerous journals and magazines. He is a two-time Glimmer Train Finalist and nominee for the 2012 Pushcart Prize for fiction. See Ron read on YouTube.