by Vivian Eyre
“Ode to Fudgie the Whale”
Oh, first loves always hold their power. When I saw you
through that cellophane window of the Carvel box,
my shadow vanished into your deep fudge glaze.
Who ever heard of a whale-shaped ice cream cake?
Or ice cream cake that wasn’t an iceberg-dense, pastel
concoction. When I spooned through the light vanilla
& chocolate layers, a soft mmm hummed inside me.
I’m not a fan of rubble in ice cream. But I forgave
the cookie crunchies, the edge of frosted rosettes,
not whale-ish at all. Fudgie. You were an icon
who lived in the boroughs. With cameos on Letterman,
& in-between innings at Shea. Hurray for Tom Carvel
whose favorite book was Moby Dick, who fathered you
on Father’s Day, who piped a blue line of icing across your side—
For a Whale of a Dad. For all dads could be whale-kin
with the largest hearts & smarts & warm-blooded bonds.
Hurray for my dad, bringing you, Fudgie to his BBQ.
Because in Brooklyn, goddesses were not sustained
by burnt offerings alone. Hurray for us, our thrills
when passing around the chipped plates,
as we pushed our folding chairs closer.
The pool is swirling with stingrays.
Protruding eyes ride wing-fins,
wand-like tails that rev-up & heave
water over the shallow pool rim.
Little hands smear the plexiglass sign —
Feed the stingrays—
from the paper cup full of worms,
flattened & dried, like offerings
to cast spells of enchantment. A girl
flings a dried bit. It falls to the pool bottom,
into sandy crevices. They find it.
Now it’s your turn, the girl turns to me
with the air of maternal prowess. I kneel
to slow what I want/don’t want to do next.
My hand plunges into the pool, the quickness
of a dark snout opening into a mouth slit,
satiny skin, an almost tender touch
brushes my fingertips.
Later I wonder by what power—
was it the printed sign, demanding voice,
the child, my loneliness, my brave hand—
gave me that permission.
Vivian Eyre is the author of the poetry chapbook, To the Sound (Finishing Line Press). Her poems have appeared in The Massachusetts Review, J Journal, Moon City Review, Pangyrus, Quiddity, and Spire. She serves as guest curator for the Southold Museum’s Whale House, and as a rescue volunteer for cold-stunned sea turtles on Long Island.