"Self- Portrait in the Body of a Whale" is telling the truth only in the first line, the rest is imagination. I did "come upon the body of a whale" on a trip to Block Island off the coast of Rhode Island in the middle of winter. There is nothing I love more than an island in winter. It is the only time you can have a whole beach to yourself. To me it is heaven. I grew up on an island, so perhaps that is why I feel so strongly about this.