Sunday, December 10, 2006

Triple Breach

I am watching a documentary about humpback whales, which I taped several weeks ago from the Science Channel. Susan Sarandon narrates it, which makes it maybe ten times better than a normal whale show. There is a moment where three whales breach at once, leaping out of the Alaskan water, one of them flying up so high even the tips of its tail flukes clear the surface. I just now watched that bit six times, hitting the back button and watching them leap backwards and submerge, the back and forth arc, stitching the sea with the great curve of the breach.

Did you know a whale's heart beats only five or six times a minute? And it is the size of a Volkswagen, that great slow heart. A small child could easily crawl through its aorta.

Today I was supposed to run errands. I stopped at CVS and bought some things, but then I was hungry so I went to the Village Deli for a Paxton's Patty Melt (a grilled chicken breast with delicious grilled onions, lots of melty Swiss cheese, bacon, and some kind of orangey Thousand Island-ish sauce, all between slices of perfectly-toasted rye bread) and some of their wonderful fresh hot potato chips. I started reading Radish King and before I knew it I had my journal out on the table and I was writing a poem, the first one I've written in almost a month. Rebecca's poetry is more contagious than the plague. (And, while I've never had the plague so I don't know for sure, I suspect the poetry is a lot more fun.)

It was starting to get a little dark by then, and I wanted something hot to drink, so I walked over to Soma but they were closed so the staff could have a bowling party. So I went over to Starbucks where I had a white chocolate mocha, finished my poem (well... finished the first draft anyhow), finished reading Radish King, then watched a little boy pick up a snow globe while his parents paid for their coffee, then wrote another poem, this one about a broken snow globe.

And then it was dark and cold and it was Sunday night, which means laundry, so I came home.


Neil Aitken said...

The comment about the whale's heart felt like the beginning of a poem already...

a small child could easily crawl through
that great slow heart, the size of a Volkswagon

Anyway, intriguing thought. Best wishes on your writing.

Anonymous said...

Like a whale, I have an unusually slow heartbeat. Mine's faster than six a minute, but a doctor told me when I was a teenager that hearts have a certain number of beats programmed into them, so it's an advantage to use them up more slowly.

I hope if humans blast each other off the surface of the earth, the whales can swim out to the very middle of the ocean and live on, sustained by their massive, slow-beating hearts.

Radish King said...

Thank you and I'll be thinking about that whale heart all day. You really should live in Seattle, you know. With a cottage in PTown.

Anonymous said...

i must, i must have the radish king! what a lovely blog entry. i am off to write about whales.

jessie carty

Anne said...

Neil: Thanks! I've written so many whale poems, but it occurs to me now I haven't really written one about actual whale anatomy. Hmmm.

Garbo: I hope that's not true about the finite number of heartbeats, because if so I'm doomed! (When I was a kid I had Graves' disease for a few years, which caused me to have an abnormally -- even dangerously -- rapid heartbeat.)

Radishyradish: I'm almost afraid to visit Seattle because I might fall in love with it. Who knows, maybe someday.

Jessie: Everyone should have their own Radish King! It's about as much wildness as you can squish between two covers.

Lyle Daggett said...

The thing about the size of the whale's heart made me think about another of those odd whale facts, something I've read a number of times, that the large baleen whales (the big ones, like humpbacks and blue whales, that eat mostly algae) have throats so small that they would choke if they tried to swallow something the size of a lemon or an orange.

Sounds like a great evening, following the poems around town.