A Child’s Christmas In Whales (A reminiscence of curious proceedings)

by richardhutton

On many occasions as a child
I was swallowed by a whale.
The sensation differs slightly
From being eaten by a snail.

The first one was a minke
Off the coast of Rotterdam.
The sea was blue and slinky,
While I was pink as ham.

As I lay upon the shoreline,
My eyes beheld the sky;
A whale surveyed the sea shine –
And mistook me for some rye[1].

With her jaws she filched me;
Her toothless gums bit down.
Her taste buds shuddered swiftly;
Her brows weaved in a frown.

‘Begone!’ she cried; ‘Away and hence!’
I needn’t be asked twice.
Her taste turned out the same as mine:
We neither found it nice.

The next year it was different;
By which I mean the same.
The time was near and distant –
My Christmas didn’t change.

Backstroking in the straits of France
I chanced upon a narwhal;
Our eyes did meet in briefest glance;
She thought that I was carnal.

Some find me quite indelicate;
Others think I charm.
The narwhal was indifferent;
And swallowed me with calm.

‘What the devil!’ bellowed she;
‘My God, I am aghast!’
Forth I gushed into the sea
From her blowhole blast.

The cause of piquant agony
Belied her mottled brows;
She had a gaping cavity,
And I was spattered out.

Marvellous my escape –
I thought that I would never
Free myself from such a scrape
And roll about in heather. 

When next year’s Christmas came around
I knew what else was coming.
I could see the tail a-pound;
I could hear its belly humming.

I knelt – I prayed – to God above
‘Don’t let him eat me up;
I’m much too young for Whales to love;
Or to quaff and sup’.

Alas, my fate had long been sealed,
The waves broke with commotion.
My chair slipped down, and forward wheeled,
Then tipped into the ocean.

A humpback bellowed – roaring free –
Throughout the frosty bay;
He was blind, yet espied me;
I saw his fins were grey.

And thus I spent the yuletide
Deep within his bowels;
By grace I was not lonely –
My neighbours were two owls.

One a husband, one a wife;
Years they’d been together.
Years of sullen, wretched strife,
Yet free from stormy weather. 

A miracle occurred, I’d say;
I heard the whale a-grumble.
Above the raucous freezing bay
I heard my host a-mumble.

‘No, no – that simply will not do,’
He groaned with marked disdain;
‘Far too gristly and obtuse –
What’s more it is too plain’.

And thus it was that I was piped
Out of his blubbered mouth;
I returned to Stockholm;
The behemoth headed south.

Relieved? Well, strangely, I confess 
I was tinged with regret;
Am I not delicious?
Is my flavour wet?

One Christmas I was lonely –
My life had lost its way.
I wanted to feel comely;
To see a brighter day.

I holidayed in Finland;
Where seers say that you shouldn’t.
Because it always snows at Christmas;
Even when it doesn’t.

It was not fate which took me;
It was a fluke of chance.
A bowhead glided gently;
Its jaws snagged on my pants.

The whale was wrought with fears –
Its flippers wrapped in socks;
Covering its dainty ears
Were two chiming clocks.

A harpsichord it had for teeth;
Its nostrils flared with rigour.
Barnacles piped a beat;
I played the keys with vigour.

‘What the devil? Such a bawl!’
I must accept the claim.
My fingers do not leap – they crawl;
It is my secret shame.

My escape this time was easy;
In fact it was quite plain.
The whale was somewhat queasy
Though too mild to complain.

One winter I grew peaceful;
Along the beach I strolled.
Just as I felt hopeful,
Down my trousers rolled.

A Pilot whale was stranded
Upon the sandy way.
Its eyes were dull and dreary;
They reminded me of May.

Slipping on a starfish,
I skittered through the lips;
The teeth brushed rather sharpish
Upon my naked hips.

‘Why?’ I asked; ‘Am I to blame?
Have I done something awful?
Do I have the scent of shrimp;
Or lobster by the claw-full?

Two hunters sat and gave a stare;
I beheld the beating heart.
There was a feud between the pair;
A gull kept them apart.

One had fired his harpoon
At some passing krill;
The pilot swallowed all anon;
And now was agued with ill.

Yet despite the heavy atmosphere
I was feeling chipper;
My unruly trousers were
Now belted with a kipper

‘Typical’ one hunter groaned;
‘Just look at the weather’.
A snowflake drifted all alone –
Or perhaps it was a feather.

Silently I moved some kelp;
My hand begrasped the spear;
Suddenly the behemoth belched –
The passageway was clear.

There was no time for thanks;
Nor need to fish me out.
The hunters held me by the shanks –
We flew out of the spout.

For one last youthful time,
My Christmas was a-bed;
I travelled to a warmer clime,
Where the sea is Red.

Moonlight glinted silently
Atop the spicy sea;
I dreamed a dream so dreamily;
An Orca swallowed me[2].

Inside I found a woman
Who’d swum the straits of Araby;
She made a new home in the whale;
And furnished it for free.

The ribs had been graced with a cage
Open at all times;
A nightingale sang like a sage –
Joyous in dark climes.

The ocean had enchanted her
Between one rock and another;
As the tides were roaring there
A whale’s mouth offered cover.

The whale’s tongue was now garnished
With ornate carpetry;
The somnolence was varnished
With wordless poetry.

‘Goodbye’ I said to both my friends
When I had departed;
This is where my story ends:
Back where I had started.

Now I dream of kippers,
And wistfully retire;
While chestnuts and my slippers
Roast slowly in a fire.

I tell grandchildren stories –
They dismiss them as tall tales;
My many fabled glories
Of Christmases in whales. 


[1] Q. Do whales eat rye? A. Whales have always eaten rye.

[2] Q. Are Orcas members of the whale family, and not the dolphin genus? A. Orcas have always been members of the whale family, and not the dolphin genus.

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