See Her: Earth Day, Poetry Month

Oh, the whales! In the sea, breaching waves, free to be
just a mom, or a calf, not baleen, or whale blubber—
no more brigs, no more sails, not these ships, that they flee,
not the past, but the now, the whale fishers. They’ll shoot her
and scrub her, her meat sold, and her fat—but a plea

to see her there in the sea. I’m a mother. So is she.

For dVerse where Björn has asked us to write anapestic tetrameter. Well. . .this is an attempt. I had a second stanza, and I just scrapped it. I think the poem works better without it. This was definitely hard.
This poem is also for Earth Day, which is today.

Several years ago, we visited our daughter and her wife who lived in Boston at the time, and we went on a whale tour, where we saw whale mothers and babies. Whales were a significant trade in New England and elsewhere in the nineteenth-century

46 thoughts on “See Her: Earth Day, Poetry Month

  1. I think it is hard to write a serious sounding poem with these metre, but you have managed exactly that, because you did not stick to a strict rhyme scheme. Given the subject, I think this worked perfectly!

  2. The one time we went on out to see whales (San Francisco Bay), the water was rocky so I spent most of my time down below. As it was, few whales were seen. Even they thought the water was too rocky, I guess 😉 Best memory was seeing two whales do some synchronized swimming off the coast of California. We were on land and could only see them well with our binoculars but it was a treat! And I think you did very well with the poem xox

  3. Well done. I read the rules and said… nope!
    I want them all to be free. The Inuit are the only ones who should be allowed to hunt them because they don’t take more than they need and they use all of the animal.

  4. As a fellow whale lover, I cannot even imagine the killing of these precious beasts. The meter and rhyme faded into the background with this beautiful piece for Earth Day.

  5. I agree with Ingrid, it is hard to write a serious sounding poem with some metres, and you have pulled it off so well, Merril, by breaking it up with feminine rhymes, caesura and punctuation. Your poem has echoes of whale song in the opening line, but then you remind us of the awful history of the whale trade. That’s why I can’t read Moby Dick. The final line hits home. I would love to see whales swimming in the ocean.Sadly we have only had dead sperm whales washed up along our coast.

  6. I think “See Her” works very effectively! I think a second stanza would have been too much. I still have yet to see a whale in the ocean. (Of course, I’m not particularly keen on boats.) I’m an hour and a half away from Boston.

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Liz.
      I’m not particularly keen on boats, either because I get seasick easily–but not really out on these boats with the wind. It’s interesting how much colder it gets away from shore. And it is truly amazing to see the whales!

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