Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Michael McClintock: WHALES AT SANTA CRUZ

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In Memory of LaDona Valencia Cook
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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

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by Michael McClintock
Fresno, California
first published in Modern Haiku, 34.1, Winter/Spring 2003

2 comments:

Jeffrey Harpeng said...

I'm afraid I'll fall back on superlatives here, for this is a piece that courts superlatives.
Sensitive and masterful craftsmanship.
A skilful handling of human fragility and the patterns that haunt our lives. Shall we die as we live.Leaning forward, just so. Then the ever hopefullnes of seeing the urn as a suitable vase. I yearn to hear of the speculations about the meaning of whale song? I suspect that there is an intangible link betwen whale song and Gorecki's third symphony.

Crafty Green Poet said...

this is beautiful and moving, a wonderful piece