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it comes in waves


Pushcart Nominee 2023

Underwater Creatures

The whale surfaced before us, arriving unawares

I knew it was an angel

             by the wings covering its feet


Emerging like childbirth without labor

             parting the legs of the sea

             pushing, irresistible, water breaking

             a crowning, the head appears

and a breath was taken

             I think it was mine


Reborn into our world at each chosen breath

we, onlookers, rejoiced at its appearance

mistaking a miracle as a thing of joy

             as the naive so often do


People dream of seeing an angel

but proof of God is a terrible thing

              and death follows in its wake


It floated there, so alien

yet so much more natural than I

commanding without interfering,

               as humans don’t alone, where once so many angels flew


it hovered before me, still and silent

the answer to questions

I still don’t know to ask


men no longer call upon the gods of the sea

                not until they are floundering

nor do they remember the fate of Jonah

after leviathan spit him out


An omen then, a ghost sent by Dickens

to point toward the future and silently accuse

                  we always think it points to us

when lately it’s been all about children

                  and God’s choice to let them die


The angel descended and was gone

                   taking my faith down with it

and I wondered if I turned to look back

                   just for a moment

if I would be turned into salt


Perhaps the sea itself is composed

of all those souls

who saw the angel before me

                 and longed for just one more glance

Mark Hendrickson is an emerging poet who recently relocated to the Des Moines area. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Synkroniciti Magazine. Before becoming a poet, Mark worked for many years as a mental health technician in a locked psychiatric unit. He has advanced degrees in Music, Health Information Management, and Marriage & Family Therapy.

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