Alan: We were told he had fallen on the ice and wouldn’t recover. All that his family asked was that our makeshift Sangha ease his passage from this life with well wishing and loving kindness.
To One Dying In Hospital
draw their light
from the top,
as if a blind
huddle in the thread
of the stream
that winds across the low-tide
marsh; grow nervous
but do not lift.
I have been asked
to hold you in my thoughts,
though we have never met,
so I do.
just visible beyond the ridge
the single small cloud,
in an otherwise
Nancy: At a conference on whale populations, I overheard this remark: “Death is the least known aspect of the life of whales.” Except for those washed ashore or impaled on a ship’s prow, what do we know?
Mortalities And Entanglements
Rising out of the black,
the whales slowly take on form; they become
distinct and whole, finely shaped, various,
individuated; they come to meet us at
Wide. Blue is wide.
We come to know one another in a wide
Musicians play Villa-Lobos,
and the whales show their appreciation of cellos and flutes
with slow rolls.
Poets write and recite poems. Scientists
fill their family albums with snapshots of whales.
Word goes out: the whales have come back
from Patagonia with a new song.
We all get copies.
We stand in the water,
hip deep, watching them die.
Death is over the edge of blue.
Is this all we have to show for it?
Bones? From bones we learn about bones,
but we want to be taught requiems.
I want to ask the whales,
how can I know, when a poem sounds,
whether it has gone to feed
or die? We want to know more,
we want to know why.
When the whales go, they take the answers
with them, over the edge,
deep blue, indigo,
“Mortalities And Entanglements” first appeared in East of the Light (Stone Man Press & Slow Dancer Press, 1984).