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Whale Watching

Sandy Shreve
From:   Bewildered Rituals. Polestar Book Publishers, 1992.


for Andrea Lebowitz

All week we search through sightings
of seals and otters
and lost logs in the water
for the Orcas

Hoping to see fins in the distance
binoculars raised to faces
we whisk our eyes across wave
after wave, wish away the constant
ferries and outboards
want the channel a calm
invitation for whales

as if our seeing them
would be proof of possibility
that all we have inflicted
on this world
might be reversed
and all the ruin changed
to an unscathed grace

as if the common seal
no longer counts enough for this
approaches going home
with a story of sea gulls
as compared to eagles

Do we want the rare, endangered
species to visit us
to bestow some special privilege
like a trust
that tells us we are not
the culprits

I want to believe it's something else
this longing for the exotic
something that transcends
such tired desires

Of course, the time comes
when we give up
accept a pattern of metallic slaps
as one more shipping sound
Engrossed in books we let it pass
until by accident of a glance
we glimpse the last three whales
breaching in the bay just yards away

We gaze, trapped between elation and regret
in that moment luck has granted -
kicking ourselves for what we missed
we still feel honoured by the Orcas
who likely neither know nor care
that we are, wistful, there
wishing they'd come back
give us one more chance



Sandy Shreve's works copyright © to the author.


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