Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Sally Bliumis-Dunn: Right Whales

In the underwater photo,
 
because they have no dorsal fins, 
 
they look like long, narrow stone slabs 
 
      floating at varying depths, 
                   
                   stepping stones or ancient stairs
 
down through water to the plain of sand
 
where bones of other whales lie buried—
 
 
this is what we’d hoped for you
 
 
not like the unlucky whales lost in krill-pink clouds
 
 where lines from buoys to lobster traps become bars on a cage.
 
I saw a photo of one, a rope had caught its baleen comb 
          
      jigsawed through to the jaw, torn the creature’s fluke;
 
they said it took weeks 
 
for the whale to die deep below the surface—
 
that the nearby fishermen hosing down their boats,
 
could have no idea.

Copyright 2019 Sally Bliumis-Dunn. First published in PLUME Anthology 7, 2019. Included in Vox Populi by permission of the author.

A southern right whale in waters off the Auckland Islands. (National Geographic)

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