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"Afternoon with a Sociopath"

Amelia Possanza '12
for Dan

Years into our friendship, Dan wants to go
to the whale museum. Well on in his years, he still marvels
at their size and intelligence. In front of a painting
of Jonah trapped in a cavernous belly, he asks me what it feels like
to care about someone else.

It feels like this: You've been given
an old whaling vessel. You keep it in the back yard
and occasionally glimpse it through the window
when you bother to draw the shades.

In the weeks you pace its upper decks, you notice
where it's been, whispering beneath the punctured sails.

One day, no less damp than the others, you decide
to head below deck with a candle and a heavy
pistol. You can hear the rats scuttle
through her empty spaces.

The interior brings to mind the whales.
Not barreled up, but cavernous and high ceilinged
on the inside.

You begin to look forward to the afternoon hour
set aside for investigation.

She's got a room that yields in the light
of the flame—brown bags of spices
and coffee beans cascading to the touch.

Back in the house you fear
you will wake up tomorrow to find she's
set sail. Just as easily, you could set the whole thing
on fire and douse the flame
before it gets the house.

Or rather, it feels like this: Each type of whale
has a unique mating call. Two scientists
tracked a call for twenty years
and never heard another like it. ]

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