In Search of the White Whale

Just as a fishing boat passes
between me and the rising sun

a harpoon rips through the hull
obliterating craft and crew

a harpoon hurled eight minutes
and ninety-three million miles ago

yet timed perfectly
as if the sun knew

that I would set my alarm
for six forty-five

knew how long it would take
for me to get dressed

to brush my teeth, to stumble
around looking for my glasses

to walk the quarter-mile to the bay
so that I would come out of the trees

at the exact moment when boat and sun
and eye make a direct line.

Two seconds later, the boat,
somehow put back together again;

the whale, racing away
at the speed of light.

José A. Alcántara is the author of The Bitten World: Poems (Tebot Bach, 2022). His poetry has appeared, or is forthcoming, in American Life in Poetry, Poetry Daily, Ploughshares, Bennington Review, Rattle, The Harvard Review, 32 Poems, The Southern Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, & The Slowdown. José has received fellowships from Fishtrap, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Willapa Bay AIR. He won the 2021 Neil Postman Award for Metaphor from Rattle and has been a four-time finalist for the Cantor Prize. José has worked as a bookseller, mailman, electrician, commercial fisherman, baker, carpenter, studio photographer, door-to-door salesman, and math teacher. He lives in western Colorado and wherever he happens to pitch his tent.