“Whale watching: San Juan Islands″ was originally posted in PNA Village Connections Blog on April 27, 2017.
by Marilyn Zuckerman
Whale watching: San Juan Islands
Moving slowly through the natural world,
trying to remember everything before it goes.
We count pelagic cormorants, auks, murres—
migrant seabirds down from Alaska for the summer,
watch the cormorant nursery, arranged along shelves
of a gently swinging bell buoy,
bald eagles lined up along crags
on the opposite shore.
Young auklets—swimming like amateurs—
divide, as we plow through them
and there are dolphins,
But not the killer whales
we’ve come to see.
From the tour boat,
video cameras scan the shore,
trying to get it all down—
the San Juan Islands,
Mt. Baker, Mt Rainer—
a polluted haze swirls around the summit
of the scalped mountain behind them
like a scarf covering
the hairless head of a cancer patient.
The scientist on board says
he doubts the same cataclysmic event,
creating the same bacterial scum
that become us and our whole world,
will ever happen again.
· · ·
When I first wrote this poem, I had just moved from Boston to the Northwest and fell in love with its natural treasures—eagles barely saved from extinction, Puget Sound, the mountains, its forests, and the wonderful stock of wildlife.
Now as spring approaches after the long monsoon- like weather, leaving us in the rain and the dark, I am beside myself with happiness and sorrow wondering if we can keep this Shangri-La and for how long?
The last lines of the poem speak of what that loss would mean to our children and grandchildren. Dedicated to Earth Day, everyday.