When Death Comes (Off Provincetown)
The whale turned over in the spray of her own breath
nearer to shore where the water broke among the shoals.
It was a caressing in those undercurrents; a lulling into a reacquaintance
to whom she had once belonged, so to whom would she return
for she had never left her place of swimming to or away from
all she belonged to and was sister to.
And, the beach was as much her home as ever, even now
as she approached it, gulls flapping around emerging rock.
The sea is louder here, she thought, the waves more turbulent
in these ever increasing shallows.
Is this the door of curiosity?
Is there not more life here than in those comfortable vast depths
I have emerged from with its icebergs, its whale music?
The music here is different-
It is a dull roar that crests and troughs,
it is a cacophany of lives being lived, of many names,
all of them courageous and welcoming.
It is my precious bridegroom who waits among the dunes.
It is this terminus of land where life and death are lovers and I am
never old, but forever young.
It is a soul of these old bones lying broken among shells
in crackles of old joys and the spoils of having lived well.
It is the smell of beach roses and a decay that is its own
completion in reasoning.
It is where we become more like the earth and recall how
it needs us and us it.
The whale breached the sandy bottom, the millions of
lifes fragments brushed her as the sun dried her
and she rocked in the waves.
She had not simply visited the sea and would not simply
return to it-
Her bones already lie on the beach among the crabs.
Her footsteps already indented its sand.
The beach flowers already grew among her remains,
her seeds were already feeding the birds.
This fragile ecosystem had a strength to sustain it,
it had its own renewal process despite what man
would do to it.
It had a soul that could not be destroyed.
It had a cell memory that was long and wide.
It never needed anyone to tell it what it was;
it knew itself in its own majesty.
It built itself within its own song.
It was her own melodic whale-song
answered at last by an on-shore wind.
and it stirred the grass with its silent music.
It stirred a soul that kept company in the many
within this vastness of itself,
within this very idea of time.
(Inspired by and written in memory of Mary Oliver)