Tahlequah's Dirge

Tahlequah's Dirge
(c) Lori Christopher https://etsy.me/2P111pC

A poem:


Tahlequah's Dirge

For sixteen days a mother orca has carried the corpse of her calf across the sea.
We the human watch in awe,
in horror,
at the progression of her mourning,
performing nonverbal aquatic adaptations of emotion we only channel through "It's Quiet Uptown"
and we witness, we the simple, the sea-less,
we tell ourselves we know death,
we the civilized dispose of our lost in sarcophagi and mausoleums,
in graveyards and infernos.
We scatter ashes and rend our clothes,
we do not drag our dead through daily migrations from office to home
the miles of bed to refrigerator to toilet to couch to bed.
We the evolved leave the departed to be consumed by soil or reclaimed by oxygen,
reincarnated or returned to God, to silence.
Their weight is no less than a dead whale.
Their burden still pushes downward into the dark, still demands to be carried.

The apocryphal story in six words-

For Sale
Baby Clothes
Never Worn

An orca is carrying her dead calf for the sixteenth day followed by a crowd who hold her baby when she requires rest,
taking turns nosing the sixteen-day-dead infant to break the mirror-black ocean surface
so she does not break.
We the superior do not shoulder our dead with us,
we do not push children towards the light,
arguing at bedsides of unblinking EKGs over the difference between brain death and cardiac arrest and absolutes.
We drop off casseroles and rinse our hands clean in shallow, salt-less water.
We sell the baby clothes.
We the apex are not even now carrying a constantly ticking internal clock that counts one week
two months
six years ago come Thanksgiving.
We do not measure the passage of time in landmarks of loss.
We do not know how many days since
Little Sister
Robin Williams
Baby clothes went on sale.

There is nothing harder to ignore on a beautiful summer's day than a dead whale in the surf,
than dead weight in the water.
A killer whale is carrying her baby to the edge of the earth in an act of heartbreak we believed was our monopoly.
The water is cold
and dark
and has no floor.
We know the press of it against our lungs,
still carrying boxes of baby clothes,
empty now, but heavy still,
a weight demanding to be pushed towards the sun.


Read more poetry here: Oral History of the New Colossus

Read my most recent post here: What Fear is Trying to Teach You in the Dark

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Filed under: News

Tags: Death, Grief, Prompts, Reflection, Writing

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