Dolphin, with Number by Ty Phelps

Ty Phelps has earned an Honorable Mention in Streetlight’s 2023 Poetry Contest
Dolphin, with Number

The city stretches out beyond
the marshland, lights shining
through the cold, gray
midwestern fog. On screen,
a triptych of images of a dolphin
stranded on a strip of Cape Cod
                         “Smooth as polished
granite to the touch,” reads
the caption. The dolphin is
red-eyed, face shaded with black
like a great northern bird. Cracked
beak full of serrated teeth.
perhaps a ranger—has painted
a number in red on the spent
creature’s side. I wonder where
it will be taken, for what purpose,
and my mind floats to a friend
who’d make a “porpoise” joke—
she’s somewhere across the sky.
                                      If I could
reach through the screen I’d pull
the dolphin to me, carry it
to the nearby water, let it float
one final time.
                             And anyway it’s a small
lake I’m near, not an ocean,
and the ice is growing thick.

Black dolphin in deep blue water
Delphinadae by miffsysffim ( CC license.

Tyler Phelps
Ty Phelps’s work has appeared in Blackbird,, Streetlight, Zizzle, and elsewhere. He won the 2021 Nancy Ludmerer Fellowship for Flash Fiction, the 2019 Catherine and Joan Byrne Poetry Prize, and The Gravity of the Thing’s 2016 Six Word Story Contest. He holds an MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University where he was the 2021–2022 Cabell First Novelist Award Fellow. He is the Visual Arts Center of Richmond’s Writer-in-Residence for 2023–24.

Follow us!
Share this post with your friends.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *