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Thursday, September 19, 2013


by Mary Sexson

How often do whales clean their ears? Well, never. And so, year after year, their ear wax builds up, layer upon layer. According to a study published Monday, these columns of ear wax contain a record of chemical pollution in the oceans. --NPR, Sept. 16, 2013

An exquisite thought,
the whale as the canary
in earth’s liquid mines, its
ear wax the testament to their lives,
to our foolishness.  It reads like
a book, the layered spikes
of fibrous rings pages that reveal
the oceans they traveled,
the depths they plumbed.
The mercury showed up,
and the DDT, the garbage
we dumped into their waters
as they passed beneath us,
these leviathans of the world,
silent singers, filtering
the darkness, listening
with ears we did not know they had.

Mary Sexson is the author of the book 103 in the Light, Selected Poems 1996-2000 (Restoration Press, 2004), and co-author of the recently released Company of Women:  New and Selected Poems (Chatter House Press, 2013, with Jayne Marek and Lylanne Musselman).  Her work has been included in projects such as Arts Kaleidoscope and Poetry in Paint.  Her poems have appeared in various literary publications, including Flying Island, Tipton Poetry Journal, and Grasslands Review.  Her newer work has been published in several anthologies, including The Globetrotter’s Companion (Lion Lounge Press, London), Trip of a Lifetime (Sleeping Cat Books), and A Few Good Words (Cincinnati Writer’s Project).  She has forthcoming work in the Reckless Writing Anthology (Chatter House Press, November 2013).