The Origin of Ambergris
Have you ever watched the sun singe the sea?
Seen steam rise in fierce nebulae over foam?
Such vistas, my lonely prerogative and
rare, since Poseidon imprisoned me.
She shimmered her secrets into my arms.
Yes, I knew the Old Roar had seen her first
but the viscous sensuousness of her kiss
glued me beyond fear of the sea-god’s power.
He was not inclined to share our mutual cynosure.
With one tine of his trident, he pared my soul from
body and drew it through a skein of horror:
I choose to forget all how and where.
Alone in the great dismal gray, confined to salt
and glare, I swam for years with chilblained heart,
surfacing to spout and breathe without
purpose, circumnavigating uncharted hurt.
Was I bitter? Beyond! Beyond! Ridiculous,
these phalanges permanently gloved within a
flipper! This rib cage deadened to buoyancy of
hope. Beyond. I am a monstrosity, yes.
But even a monster can love. Memories of
our passion began to purge my bitter bile.
With each dire release, the mess would float
atop the waves, awaiting alchemy of sun’s
sanctification and brine’s blessing. Stars sang
lullabies to the flotsam, such dulcet mystery.
One day the lump washed ashore, where lovers learned
its limbic force and melded in most ancient dance.
Who underwent the greater change? I wonder.
Me, a man confined to whale, or bezoar become
myrrh d’amour? I do know this: if yet she lives,
she’ll fathom my longing in the scent of ambergris.
Morgan Hunt was born and raised in Brigantine, an island off the coast of New Jersey. She is Coast Guard certified to sail small vessels, and spent four years in the Navy. An award-winning freelance writer, her poem "The Danger of Skipperlings" won Honorable Mention in the Oregon State Poetry Association contest in 2006. Her first three mystery novels were published by Alyson Books in 2007 and 2008, and her short story "The Angel's Share" will appear in the San Diego Noir anthology, to be published in 2011 by Akashic Books. She has long been fascinated by the inherent paradox of whale waste (ambergris) as perfume ingredient.