In Memory of LaDona Valencia Cook.
This place she loved above all others on the coast, at this same time of year, the fall. We came each year to watch the whales. She was small and from the gulls she had learned how to lean forward and balance herself against the blast of wind. She was propped on pillows and sitting up in bed when with that same motion she leaned forward and died.
I have waited for darkness; it is illegal to release human remains here.
I am told three hundred whales will pass this rock point tonight. As they pass, they will sing. I have heard before the voices of these creatures, on recordings; I have sampled their grammar and measured the entropy of their phrasing: the clicks and squeals, the unpredictable trilling, the small chirps like those in a twilit garden at the borders of hearing. I have come to a few conclusions about those songs, their theme and sequence, but they are improbable conclusions.
The kelp forest stirs in the neap tide, the wind is light. A giant's sleeping breath fills the space above the sea.
the emptied urn—
a good size for holding
flowers come spring
by Michael McClintock
first published in Modern Haiku, 34.1, Winter/Spring 2003