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Thursday, July 14, 2016


by Devon Balwit

From this week's New Yorker.

Human-generated underwater noise doubled every 10 years during the last half of the 20th century, according to a report by the United Nations Environment Program. That cacophony is having a huge impact on life under the waves. Dr. Baumgartner compared it to a cocktail party at which everyone is talking at once and you can’t hear the person next to you. . . . “The cumulative noise is making it difficult for the animals to hear each other most of the time, not just once in a while,” Dr. Clark said. “Over a month on average, whales are losing approximately 85 percent of their opportunities to communicate.” That’s devastating, he added, for creatures who vocalize to find mates, to forge friendships and to share information about food sources. —"The Great New York Whale Census," The New York Times, July 7, 2016

Once there was silence
            in which we swam

long tendril trails,
            vocalizing.  With moans,

clicks, bubbles’ bright
            jewel boxes, we

welcomed mates, celebrated
            reunions, warned

of danger.  For lazy stretches,
            we made no sound.

Now, you are noisy, and
            we are deaf.  We

hear only motor roar, the rage
            of gears, your sonar,

your soundings.  To speak, to hear,
            we press against each other

like the blind.  Some promise
            a future once again silent.

Until then, we call to no one but ourselves,
            darkness within darkness.

Devon Balwit is a teacher and educator in Portland, Oregon.  Her poems have appeared or will in TheNewVerse.News, The Fog Machine, Of(f) Course, Birds Piled Loosely, The Cape Rock, The Fem, The Prick of the Spindle, Dying Dahlia Review, drylandlit_press, 3 Elements, and Leveler.