Orca Elegy

Monday, January 15, 2024

They called it her tour of grief,
the path of the Orca carrying her dead calf

through the Salish Sea
for seventeen days while we, the human

audience, couldn’t look away.
We understood

this kind of killer
might feel what only we could

designate in language
as mothers:

how she won’t let go,
how she is still holding on,

and then the slow sinking
diminished body finally dropped

to nowhere. For seventeen days
after my daughter was born,

no one permitted me to carry her
home. In a room dark as water, I tracked

the science of her on a screen—pulse
oximetry, waveform, breathing

machine. Was it clinging or song:
How one body nourished

another, became a sudden source.
How the sky hung above,

a circular horizon,
then blood of a stranger

moved through her.
To float or to fall.

How I probed the seabed desperate
for lucent transmissions of hope.

Monday, January 15, 2024