“The Wreck of the Essex (1820)” by Elisabeth Vodola


We three will stay behind,

Twice a day drinking the sweet water,

Lying abreast, gazing at the sea,

In whose immensity we’ll try to find

Like spaciousness of mind

To remember.


We do not judge, or speak, or even think

Of the horror that is to come.

We are only a machine of memory,

Our purpose just, just, to take in,

In slow, slow measure, the outline of the sin

The whale avenged.


We will not worry the harried birds:

Our quest is to digest our brains,

As our bodies have already devoured themselves.

We do not hope, or want, or even expect.

Some day our bleached bones will salt the sea:

It is enough.