THE SHIP TRAFALGAR
Non-stop northern light. Men moved in it
like gurry sharks biting two days past death.
We needed to fill our hold
so we caught, cut, and barrelled.
The usual process was gone through
Only fog slowed us.
Sometimes then we slept,
leaving boats suspended, cables coiled
heavy at the foot of the harpoon.
What hour was it?
Under low cloud,
the sea dissolved its stains.
Meanwhile, we dreamed.
We heard the blast of whales
but could not see them. 
 Lines in italics are quoted from James Douglas, “Surgeon of a Whaler,” chapter 2 in Douglas, Journals and Reminiscences, privately printed in New York in 1910.