Wednesday, June 26, 2019

humpbacks and us


the first tentative “Over there!”
and I see nothing
I stand by the railing,
and the guy next to me points, exclaims, points,
and still I only perceive hints of revelation: a wave, white caps,
I have gazed intensely for hours at the rolling salt waters of the Bay,
seeking a spout where a whale has exhaled,
for then our cousin has come close enough to the surface
to imagine him or her breaching into the air before us,

for over two hours, our diesel-powered boat
has plowed steadfastly into the Bay of Fundy,
30 or so pairs of eyes, aided by a handful of binoculars,
have scanned for whale sign, and seen none,

just as I resign myself to a “better luck next time,” 
signs explode around me, and even I can see the spouts, the breaches,
I set my camera for sports photography,
so each push of the shutter opens it to rapid-fire photos,
I send up with near 400 shots,

humpback whales, our friends, returned from the Caribbean and childrearing,
are just starting the summer gorge of zooplankton, phytoplankton, and krill,

they rise in their own gregarious demure way to say “hi,”
two pairs of two, it seems,

we are awestruck, beside ourselves,
cheering, laughing, whooping,
for an encore, twice a huge humpback
parallels the boat, 25 feet away,
sharing the air a bit with its relatives,
who, unlike them, have not returned to Mother Sea,
except for short visits, such as where the whale rises into our world,
and those of us above imagine ourselves drawn below
to where these gentle giants live their own fullness of life,

as I leap my imagination toward their world,
I feel larger, grander, surer of my own worth,
because I glimpse the family
that humans, whales, wolves, and really all life, make together,

how much better it is for us as humans
to enlarge who we know we are to our closer cousins,
and then to our distant cousins,
and even to the rock and water
 that predates and allows all life,

seeing the humpback whales today slaps me awake,
and I am in love with them, with all life,
and with the universe that creates us all.

by Henry H. Walker
June 22, ‘19

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