April 16, 2010
A Poem from Kelsea Habecker

Kelsea Habecker is a poet, writer and teacher who lives and makes art in Indianpolis. Her book of poems, Hollow Out, was selected for publication by U.S. Poet Laureate Charles Simic and published by New Rivers Press in 2008.

“Yes, A Whale Sings” was written during the five years she lived in the Arctic, as a teacher in an Inupiat Eskimo village. The whale hunt, on which the poem reflects, was an annual spring rite in the village.

The poem is from her book, Hollow Out, and is reprinted by permission of New Rivers Press.

Yes, A Whale Sings

“The deep vowels—perhaps whales—mourn”
Robert Bly

When the bomb tears through a kidney
               and the bowhead is coaxed
from its final retreat under the ice
               a young boy will race
back to the village to ring
               an old iron bell
stationed at the Episcopal church
               for over a hundred years.
Whales tunnel the breaking ice
               in late spring
and each time one is harpooned
               the bell rings.
This is for rejoicing, it says.
               It says bring your axe
and your sled. It says the whale, like love,
               has given itself
to us. The bell keeps ringing
               until everyone gathers
and blood quenches
               the thirsty snow. 

The whale is gone
               but the bell rings
               on in my head for the rest
of the day, its hollow body
               of sound swimming off to join
the sky’s daily migration.

The Indiana Humanities Council is posting poems on Think.Read.Talk. by Hoosier poets in celebration of National Poetry Month. Other Indiana celebrations include poetry readings at the Artsgarden (above the intersection of Illinois and Washington Streets, Indianapolis), performed each Monday at 12:15 p.m. For a schedule of events, click here.

Posted In: Miscellaneous

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *