Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Whale Poem, Revised

Saw some more houses. More tomorrow. Meanwhile, whales.


The ocean surges
a basin full of quicksilver.
On a boat somewhere
near the shore of the gray
Pacific, a small group shivers
in the morning chill.
We’ve come to see the whales
riding the warm current
all the way
the coast to Baja.

Onboard the naturalist
fights the waves that almost
shake him from his spot
intoning lines about
the whales’ intelligence
their stupendous size
their gentle ways.

It is their size he says
more than all else
that makes them objects
of our awe.
We cannot take them in
all in one glance.
Much like a mountain
or an ancient Bristlecone, this
renders them sublime.

The speaker crackles
as the naturalist explains
that whales like us
are curious. Mistaking
ships for kin
they have been known
to squint in at the portholes
touching the glass
with a supple fluke.

Small wonder that alone
in this whole ocean
one of few things even
larger than themselves
the whales take company
where they can find
it and seek us out
as we do them.

Yet other senses
serve them more than sight.
Their eyes spaced far
apart on either side of the great
head, seem little
more than human;
yet chambered cochlea
curl within the caverns
of their skulls.

Does seeing even matter
to the whales?
Immersed in song
chanting their collective
saga that will never end--
perhaps of humans
in their clumsy
ships their subtle
hands ill-shaped
for swimming
their grapple hooks
and insatiable nets.

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