At 2,000 Feet



“…unfathomable waters; and afloat the vast bulk of him
is out of sight.” —
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick


Turning back and back

on the small egg of the light

—blue in its bare intensity,

locus of the camera—how at home,

curving and unclumsy,


huge leather head, small eye,

old white gouge (a voice says

“propeller scar”), then out of the dark

its fin (so small, the bones of which

almost exactly answer to the bones

of the human hand), then

its side and side and side and later

(slow, as if stopped, floating, to watch

a windmarked bay) the tail,

gently, the flukes (broad palms),

sweeping particles of lightless drift,

then black. And the whirring heart


of the probe, the lens’s

jerky head, the voices of the team

sprung giddy from their job’s

entombment (“He’s trying

to figure us out”). Melville knew


the dragging and stabbing (the monster

horribly wallowed in his blood), the long warp

of the carcass flattened

and leaking, lashed,

ship listing over its haul. He never saw


the whale entire, eye-level,

unchased (undashed pride

of hull and spars) like this,


in the camera, whole

and curious,

the great breath held more

than an hour, and up there,

no captain with iron tip

(out of the nail-stubs

from horseshoes) waiting

for the spout,

the sound.



Amy Miller’s full-length poetry collection The Trouble with New England Girls won the Louis Award from Concrete Wolf Press. Her writing has appeared in Gulf Coast, Tinderbox, Willow Springs, and ZYZZYVA, and her most recent chapbook is I Am on a River and Cannot Answer (BOAAT Press). She lives in Oregon.