Wednesday, August 17, 2011

New Neighbors \ The Whale Came

Alan:  People who fall in love with a place can’t help resenting those who come after.  Each new wave sucks us further back toward where we came from.
New Neighbors
All over town, surveyors’ flags are sprouting.
Bulldozers are grinding their initials into the dust.
Saws bite, dump trucks snarl,
gravel goes down, concrete flows, contractors grin.
All over town, the maps thicken with lot lines:
old farms, cut and split like cordwood,
stacked, ready for sale,
shorefront peeled off like veneer.
All over town, people are moving in,
bringing new attitudes, new demands,
wanting new schools, new roads, new stores;
new neighbors looking a lot like the old
selves we fled from all those years ago.
Nancy:  It took time to learn how to see whales, using the sound of their breath, the escort of seabirds (that were watching for the fish driven to the surface).
The Whale Came
The whale came
and I thought it was a rock
and I said to my friends how low
the tide must be you see that rock
and they looked
and there was no rock
and they said there is no rock
not in that channel
the tide is never that low
The whale came and I thought it was spindrift
and I said have you seen
how the wind tears the waves
look high where the sky shimmers
and they said the air is still
the grasses are not moving
The whale came
and I thought it was a fisherman
and I said see how that boat rides
and they saw no boat
only a flock of gulls and they said
the sun is in your eyes and they turned
and they started to leave
But the whale CAME
and I held my friends there
and I said wait
and we waited
and when he came he was an island without end
a rock in the channel
a rainbow
and we all breathed at once, a sigh
Where there had never been a rock
we saw a rock
and in the still air we saw an exhalation
we stood a long time after he was gone
“The Whale Came” first appeared in Blackberries and Dust (Stone Man Press, 1984)