Imagine roaming the world’s largest ocean year after year alone,
calling out with the regularity of a metronome, and hearing no response...[
the animal is saying,] “I’m out here”...“[but] nobody is
—Andrew C. Revkin, New York Times
Marine biologists listen
through their underwater instruments
to this solitary baleen whale
and name her for her song’s
an exhausted cry no other whales can hear.
So we call her June,
give her a human name,
claim her as if we could erase her loneliness
the way we erase our own:
erecting antennae, slinging radio waves
like ships that sail beyond the script
on the map’s border that reads
here be dragons,
hoping a postcard with a bit of code that says
comes lobbing back to our wide, gray dishes.
So we call ourselves billions
of ones and zeroes
exiting a hole,
falling from a scarp’s blasted entrance
to slate-bruised knees
where we pray for a story
we can believe.
Or we pray for rain to fall as snakes
that bite their tails in prairie grass
and roll to the horizon
where dust-browned leaves rise in a conjured gale.
Or we pray for tufts of nebulae
that shake glimmering dust from their locks,
christen our foreheads with soot.
Holding out for a switch flicked in the heavens,
we pray for confirmation.
June, what if your song returns from a distant place?