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Thursday, December 21, 2006


by Michael Shorb

It fell to me
to express the confused
rage of the drowning
Polar bear battling
chemical winds and widening
water, its strength
exhausted by two hundred
miles of suddenly open ocean,
its mind unraveled by
the mystery of breaking
white ice canyons
teeming with easy prey
like ringed seals now vanishing

It fell to me to find
a calculus of the great creature's
final bellowing cry,
its final vision of glowing
cod and halibut slinking away
as it sank down
into cold darkness
it once had ruled

to find some explanation
for this vagrant,
unnatural sight:

colored waves dashing on leaden rocks

                    a massive white pelt

floating on the ocean's
warming surface.

Michael Shorb's work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including Nation, Michigan Quarterly Review, California Quarterly, and The Sun. He writes frequently about political, historical and environmental issues, and lives in San Francisco, CA.