THE TARRY WHALE


There were two wonders in our provincial town

on the cindery car park by the river

when I was seventeen – both August marvels.

 

First was the Century Theatre,

with its proper post war worthiness,

touring each year the north and the midlands

from the Five Towns to West Hartlepool

in three bespoke aluminium trailers

pulled by an ex-army Crossley tractor.

The same actress played Jimmy Porter’s

Alison, Sally Bowles and Elena

Ivanova Popova in ‘The Bear’.

I was struck – by the stage, the moon and love.

 

Next, on a seventy foot flat-bed truck,

was a dead fin-back whale harpooned

off Trondheim, preserved in formaldehyde

and painted with tar. It toured through the north

surreally as ‘Jonah the Whale’ as if

the rabbit foot had become the rabbit.

It lay like an elongated accident.

For a shilling you could get up close

and see the dead eye and the once olive

striated skin blackened with tar – and smell,

despite the preservatives, the corruption.

 

Better was the view from the city walls.

Where there had been outrageous laughter was beached

that solitary, dark leviathan.

 

 

 

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  1. #1 by Hugh Powell - August 25th, 2017 at 10:07

    A masterful collection!

    Dead Whales and Jimmy Porter – how right that you should bring them together.

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