Allison Funk

Leviathan

            From the Myrrour of the Worlde by William Caxton, 1481

After my son pummeled the back door,
Fisted a knife into the lock,

Spat and stabbed at the glass between us,
After the police came, cuffed him,

And left, I tried, still trembling, to remember
How even the children of gods misbehaved.

In all the creation tales I’ve known,
Floods are raised out of the fantasy

Parents have of starting over,
Their vision of a beach swept clean

Of mussels, whelks, and cockles,
Even the little webbed prints

Gulls and terns leave in their wakes.
It’s tempting to pretend,

Lured by story or song,
But easier to believe in the leviathan,

That staple of medieval bestiaries
Sailors mistook for an island.

Who can blame them for their delusions?
No wonder, exhausted by storms,

They might see an enormous floating back
And confuse it for land. At sea so long, no end,

No end, they might even have been relieved
When the whale dove, taking them down.

Allison Funk is the author of four books of poems, most recently The Tumbling Box (C&R Press, 2009). Her new book, Wonder Rooms, will be published by Parlor Press in 2014. She is Professor of English at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
MORE POEMS
  • blue
    Lauren Michele Jackson