by Meg Hutchinson
Miles off the coast of Provincetown
My sister explains to me how Humpbacks sleep,
One half brain at a time
One eye open, one shut, bobbing just below the surface.
We’re whale watching with our parents
Who madly dash from side to side of this pleasure boat,
Binoculars flapping on thin straps around their necks,
Swinging up against their throats:
Heart to chin, arm to arm, hand to eye.
He bought her binoculars for her birthday this year,
The ones she holds now, against her face
As if to say, “See, this is about closer, not farther…”
Towards the end of their marriage he spent whole winters in his study
Binoculars pressed to his forehead, obstinately watching birds,
Creatures he knew by heart,
Who accepted what he offered without question.
She hated his absence
The late night a.m. radio baseball games
Things he saw and heard without her,
A world he invented in his head, running, always running,
First to second, second to third,
Bent on getting home.
They’ve been separated for nearly a decade now, but never divorced
It’s obvious if you watch them, watching me
Heart to chin, arm to arm, hand to eye:
Whales who can only ever half sleep, so they won’t forget to breathe
Musical Contribution: “Yea Tho We Walk”
In Their Own Words
I wrote this song after flying in over the prisons at Eppley Airfield in Omaha, Nebraska. The plane was so low that I could clearly see the inmates out in the courtyard. I thought about how strange it must be for them to hear flights taking off over them all day long, to be haunted by that freedom. The Midwest has such a desolate beauty in the winter. Flying over that farmland I kept thinking of the bravery of the human spirit.
Meg Hutchinson grew up in a small town in the Berkshire hills of Western Massachusetts. She inherited her grandmother’s 1957 Martin guitar when she was in fifth grade and realized she should learn to play it. She studied poetry in college while working on a lettuce farm and dodging darts while singing in local bars. She was signed to folk label Red House Records in 2007 and with seven albums to her credit, has toured widely in the U.S, Ireland and the U.K. She has found that music is a wonderful tool for mental health advocacy work. She currently resides in Boston and is writing a children’s book.