There used to be a whale

submerged in a wishing pool

copper as the coins collected

black as the ominous unknown


the polished parts shone almost gold

inside there was a red-womb glow

both a welcome and a warning 

it was not clear which to heed


I was unsettled in the middle 

of the World’s Largest Shopping Mall

where every comfort you could afford, 

you could have


I was unsettled by the parts beneath

unsettled by the idea of being swallowed whole

but it is not every day you can walk

into the mouth of a whale


My parents wouldn’t follow 

This was a test of my bravery

I would breach the threshold and step

toward the hoped-for back wall


There was a back wall, etched with writing

A bench where teenagers must have hid and French kissed

A red lightbulb that once you saw it

let the air out of the mystery


They drained that pool

The whale swam off to somewhere

Like the myriad aquarium dwellers

strewn beside the Stokes and Silk & Satins


There might be a kiosk there now

trading wares for wonder

selling remote control helicopters

or pillows the shape of poop emoji


The whale resurfaced last last year but

the water is not wet and I could see inches below the half-parts 

of the whale’s divided body

The whale so much there that the whale is not there


The terror has drained, and 

with the fear the sacred spell, dispelled

Who would care to step inside this beached metal carcass?

One less warm womb we can return to

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