Inside the Whale

‘Get inside the whale,’ says Orwell, – or rather, admit that
you are inside the whale (for you are, of course).
                — Fiona McGregor Strange Museums

On the long train, swallowing your reflection, 
we travel in the dark, a woman 
in the landscape asks a question, 
her horizon opening and closing 
with no way to cross. Our hands 
curl for this unreachable drama, 
this journey to freedom, 
but you have it wrong and I have enough 
only to fly inside this whale. 
Our castle stands at the death of one view 
to clarify another, here we crown 
ourselves with stone, 
raise candles to the surviving frescoes, 
the faces and olive leaves, 
the isolated loaves. 
It’s the blue room that disturbs you, 
it’s over and over the parent you can’t escape, 
the walls of an old conquest 
that has no flag but the rag in your head 
that waves its fashion for freedom, 
so old hat even in your absurd revolution. 


Maria Zajkowski was born in Lower Hutt and currently lives in Melbourne. Her work has been published in journals and anthologies in New ZealandAustraliaUSA and the UK. ‘Inside the Whale‘ was written in response to Fiona MacGregor‘s Strange Museums, a travel memoir about Poland.