about the author

Danielle Mitchell is one of ten emerging poets featured in Pop Art: An Anthology of Southern California Poetry (Moon Tide Press). Her prose poems have appeared in Connotation Press, Day One, & are forthcoming in Union Station Magazine. Danielle directs The Poetry Lab in Long Beach, California, where she hosts workshops & craft seminars. She is an alumna of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers & holds degrees in Women’s Studies & Creative Writing from the University of Redlands. She currently guest writes for DIY MFA & blogs at poetryofdanielle.com.

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Whale Fall  

Danielle Mitchell


When a girl writes a letter & sends it into the sea it might meet a blue whale just before it is killed who rolls the bottle across its waist & sends it back. When the whale dies in deep ocean its body might sink six thousand feet down as scavengers snatch at its flesh, so that it goes streaming into the void like a child’s tattered blanket. When three days ago a star in the Cigar Galaxy went supernova it reminded us that beautiful anomalies do happen, so we thought of three years ago when the girl was in Switzerland & fell from a cliff. Her letter said two things. One—it makes so much sense.


Where the body lands there might bloom something other like iridescent limpets & tube worms; like a hollow in all the family portraits. There are places you can go to see it reenacted in a dark room. Where everyone gathers to the neon tank in silent vigil to watch the wide orchestra of the ribcage be drudged out of the velvet sand & put on display. A man was walking the coast in Patchogue when he first saw it, glowing like a galaxy after the storm. Where else would it be? Where else has it been?


Some people believe the next frontier is galactic & others, abyssal. That the girl was pushed. That the whale doesn’t care what we call the beautiful pink & green creatures that live in it now. That manning a telescope is the best way to discover a world. Some people believe I’ve lost myself with the facts. That the girl was born on September 11th. That she wrote poems. That she could be you. Before you understood love. That the explanation that survives its science will see new life emerge. Some people will believe anything they can prove. That the girl fell with a boy beside her. & I know their names.

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