Struck Silent by Whalesong

image of humpback whale back breaking the surface of the waterThe morning of my mother’s last day on earth the nurses didn’t notice her waif-like frame slip out the door, alarmed and shut, and make her way to the whale waters off Kauai, Hawaii. Some time later, she slipped back into her care home bed in the dementia wing and breathed some shallow breaths. At 5 a.m. the nurse asked how she was feeling and she whispered, “Grand,” onto the pre-dawn air. She gripped her rosary, the dark wood beads rising and falling through her fingers like the curved spine of a humpback breaking the surface, one last cresting before death.

James Claffey is an Irish writer and the author of the short fiction collection Blood a Cold Blue (Press 53) and the novel The Heart Crossways (Thrice Publishing). His work has been published in several Norton anthologies and he has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Photo Credit: J. Maughn

7 Responses to “Struck Silent by Whalesong”

  1. Denise Shell says:

    That is one of the most impressive pieces I’ve read this year, James! I love your style, and how much you convey in those few words. I will be seeking out more of your work.
    Thank you!

  2. Trish says:

    I’m awed by this poem. I know the island of Kauai quite well. This Irish poet has really captured it. Just incredible writing.

  3. Kerry says:

    So poignantly lovely.

  4. Tony Press says:

    Truly, a luscious piece of writing. I’ll remember this one.

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