Canticle of the Whales

by Nathalie Sorensen Email

The humpback whales are gathering

from northern oceans off Kodiak, off Kamchatka.

Three thousand miles -- such a journey,

to play, to mate, to bear their young.

Fluid forms turn slowly in the dappled light,

sound the depths, breech and blow

in the pale blue waters off Maui.

Hundreds here are playing the waves.

Great bodies dive low and long

then rocket thirty tons, full in the sky,

crash the water in a lather of foam.

And they sing, they sing

long elaborate melodies, low booms and rumbles,

queer high squeaks, unearthly moans.

Over and over, their songs swell through the waters.

Haunted and enchanted, we come, we listen.

For their songs, so like -- so unlike our own,

voiced here by these prodigious cousins,

branched off the family tree aeons ago,

show us our realm, show us ourselves,

larger, stranger,

more magnificent than we knew.

© Nathalie Sorensen

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