The Belly of the Whale

It has taken sixteen days, midway through the third week of sheltering-in-place, to relax into the boredom and let go of the guilt of being non-essential. 

To live in the belly of the whale as the tempest rages outside.  

It is the first time in almost a decade that all four of our children are living under the same roof for more than a brief holiday pitstop. 

When the chemistry is off, I try to remember that it will probably be the last time too.

Each morning I compile a list of things that give shape to the day and then submit to a blur of cooking, dishes, and endless puttering.

There are boxes and boxes of our lives in the downstairs closet to explore. It is grounding to stumble over many forgotten moments of happiness while sorting through the unnecessary and out-dated. 

Moments that had evaporated are now reconstituted. 

It gives me hope.

Things to Do in the Belly of a Whale   by Dan Albergotti

Measure the walls. Count the ribs. Notch the long days.

Look up for blue sky through the spout. Make small fires

with the broken hulls of fishing boats. Practice smoke signals.

Call old friends, and listen for echoes of distant voices.

Organize your calendar. Dream of the beach. Look each way

for the dim glow of light. Work on your reports. Review

each of your life’s ten million choices. Endure moments

of self-loathing. Find the evidence of those before you.

Destroy it. Try to be very quiet, and listen for the sound

of gears and moving water. Listen for the sound of your heart.

Be thankful that you are here, swallowed with all hope,

where you can rest and wait. Be nostalgic. Think of all

the things you did and could have done. Remember

treading water in the center of the still night sea, your toes

pointing again and again down, down into the black depths.

“Things to Do in the Belly of the Whale” by Dan Albergotti from The Boatloads.© BOA Editions, Ltd., 2008.

I took the photo in the atrium of the Children’s Museum in Fort Worth.