The Capture of a Whale Off St. Annaland, Holland, Oct. 7, 1682

from a Dutch engraving in the Macpherson Collection

In the second block,
farm laborers cheer on whalers
while the sloop bears down
on its prey, sails full.
The farmer on the far left
longs to join the briny hunt
and points toward the whale

with a pitchfork, three-pronged,
as if to emulate Neptune ~
as if tar smelled sweeter
than hay.


About the Author

Joanie DiMartino has work published in many literary journals and anthologies, including Modern Haiku, Alimentum, Calyx, and Circe’s Lament: An Anthology of Wild Women. She is a past winner of the Betty Gabehart Award in Poetry from the Kentucky Women Writers Conference. DiMartino is the author of two collections of poetry, Licking the Spoon and Strange Girls, and is completing her third manuscript, Wood to Skin, about the nineteenth-century whaling industry; prior to writing the manuscript, she was a 38th Voyager on the Charles W. Morgan. An historian, DiMartino has spent over twenty years in the museum field and currently serves as the executive director of the Smith-Harris House in East Lyme, CT. 

Capture of a Whale
Click to enlarge. “The Capture of a Whale Off St. Annaland, Holland, Oct. 7, 1682.” From Whale Ships and Whaling: A Pictorial History.

Joanie DiMartino