Whales and Protocols

“What is that?”
a boy, two seats over
echoes my thoughts
“I’ve been wondering that too!”
I blurt, disregarding social protocols.

What are the protocols for people
herded onto a ferry, headed across
open water, seated in close proximity
to neighbours?

“A whale?”
his mother asks, obviously as eager
as I to catch sight of one.

“Not whale behaviour, really –
it hasn’t submerged.”

“Sometimes they roll on the surface.”

I’m not an expert on whales, but doubt it.

“It’s a boat,” the father declares
bursting our bubbles.

A curtain draws between us –
they return to their lunch
and talk of things unrelated to whales.

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(Today’s challenge is to incorporate dialogue into our poetry.)

Whale Dreams

(Note:  Messages from the dreamtime inspire much of my poetry, and as an experiment, I decided to revisit an old dream, from May 2013, and see what new insights it might deliver.  The original posting, entitled “Whale Dreaming”, can be viewed here. )

Exposed we are, voyageurs,
crossing a great expanse –
one tiny vessel bearing
the weight of our lives,
two oars to navigate

Unknown depths below
and shadows, murky –
we push on. Row. Row.
sights set on new land
uncharted possibilities

a shape emerges –
great hulking mass
of being, parting waters
rising and transforming
a caricature of our fear

I am mesmerized, read
divinity’s presence, he
shrugs, pragmatically
notes the St. Lawrence
is home to such mammals

I dream of whales, crave
communion, project
mystical wisdom, equate
size with spirit, marvel
at potential connections

Just as I wait for a sign
from the departed, inviting
a simpler life, inspiring hope –
a shore life from which
I can observe the numinous.

Whale Dreaming

I dream: 

We are in an open row boat, crossing a river, when I see a dark shape in the water below.  “That looks like a whale” I say.  “But how can it be?”  Yet as I watch the figure pass and emerge from the water, my suspicions are confirmed:  it is a whale.  It breaks free of the water and appears like a cartoon of a whale hovering over the river. “We are on the St Lawrence” Ric offers, and I understand, but how did we get here? 

Back home, my cousin drops by.  “I have rented a cottage in PEI, and I’m looking for someone to join me,” she says.  “I’ll put the word out,” I respond before realizing that I could join her.  Why not?  “I was hoping for that,” she smiles.  We make our plans – whether to go by car or fly.  I am excited.  “You can see whales from the shore,” I exclaim. 

Well, whales are different from snakes, and hopefully, an improvement.  We have been whale-watching twice, and both times it has been incredible, and awe-inspiring.  Whales are gentle creatures, despite their size.  To be close to a whale is to marvel at the power and grace of Nature.

So why whales?

Dreams bring us symbols and metaphors that speak to what lies below our conscious, ego, selves.  For the past seven months, my husband has been battling cancer as well as trying to heal from two accidents, and now four surgeries.   Up until a few weeks ago, we have both attempted to keep up with the normal pace of life, but the pressure has broken me, and I have succumbed to the stress.  I am exhausted by the emotional and psychological strain, physically incapable of keeping up.

It is as if we are crossing a wide river in an open row boat – crossing a wide, unknown river, with little protection from the elements – yes, that is how it feels.  We keep going even though we feel inadequate and we aren’t quite sure we know where this is leading us.

It is as if a large creature lurks in the water below us.  That large creature could be cancer, loss of life, or healing and renewal.  We have no way of knowing right now.  In the dream, it looks like a whale, but it ends up being a cartoon caricature of a whale.  Does that mean that my imagination has got the better of me, or that what appears to be so overwhelming will, in the end, seem trivial?

It is as if I have an opportunity to travel to P.E.I. with my cousin.  The cousin in my dream was one I looked up to and admired.  She suffered ill health for much of her life, but maintained an attitude of quiet acceptance until her death at the age of 53.  To have the chance to spend some time with her would give me new perspective and understanding.  P.E.I is not a place I have ever visited, but have been interested in.  It exemplifies simplicity and rural peacefulness, although my brother says it is too commercial.  He thwarted my one attempt to visit P.E.I. by rerouting me to Grand Manan, an island in the Bay of Fundy.  I definitely watched whales off the coast of this tiny island, and they accompanied our ferry ride to and fro.  It was the highlight of my trip.

So how does this dream apply to my life right now?  In the dream, I seem to lack clarity, not picking up on the signals and opportunities.  I am not aware of where I am, and question what I see, and when opportunity does come my way, I am slow on the uptake.

I do feel confused, and lacking clarity right now.  I worry that I am not taking the right course of action, and that I might be missing out on important opportunities.  While my husband seems to know where we are, I do not have my bearings.

In the dream, I am hoping to see whales.  How is this a metaphor for my life?  I want to experience the numinous – I want to feel the presence of something larger than life, something so magnificent that it will make me stop in awe and believe again.

I need a sign or an omen that will waken me from this nightmare of survival and remind me once again, that while this is one ‘whale of a tale’ that we are living, it only a moment in the greater scheme of things.  I need to be reminded of the miracle of Nature.

I need to remove myself from the constant churning of fear and anxiety and retreat to a place where time stands still and simplicity is the norm.  I need to slow down and let my heart calm.

(Image:  sam1311415102.blogspot.com)