The Sun Shines 23 Hours A Day in Summer

I saw a whale once.
All nine of us
piled into the limousine
my dad bought because
he hated station wagons
thought them unsafe.

On the Icelandic shore we tumbled out
ran over a rise toward black beach
little and last
i struggled to the top of the hill
saw a whale
black sand blue ocean white foam
trying to lift her to sea

She was magnificent
and dead.

I am stranded on the beach
lifting my head
so I can breathe,
more tired each minute.
Generations come
and go with the tide.
I swim the same path,
navigate using landforms
and lighthouses.
The lighthouses disappear in
favor of newer technologies.
I get lost.

Sometimes a family gets lost.
Forgets how to communicate
forgets how to breathe
through the mouth
how to stay afloat
when the sea gets rough.
They swim toward the shore
beach themselves and
an older brother
takes out the army knife
he got from Santa
and cuts in to skin
taking pieces of blubber with him.

Later that year my kindergarten class
went on a field trip to the fish factory.

I saw a whale once.
I watched my brother cut her.
I looked into her dead eye.
I could smell her at night.

I refused to go in
refused to eat fish.

In Iceland
the sun shines
23 hours a day in summer.

The day I saw the whale
the sun didn't shine.
It burned.

copyright 2012 Julie E. Cummings