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Saturday, March 30, 2019


by Pepper Trail

What are the words in whale for this?
For this death?

We will not know

Somewhere, deep, a moan   
Too low for hearing, perhaps
A shriek too high to be borne

The rice sacks, torn, wash into the sea
Float, drift, sink into the dark

Echo back the shape of food
The shape, but not the taste
More, found, eaten, then more

The whale learns what we know
To be full, and starving
The too much and the never enough

On the necropsy table
We sort the plastic, we weigh it
We feel the horror

But the words, the right words
We will never know

Pepper Trail is a poet and naturalist based in Ashland, Oregon. His poetry has appeared in Rattle, Atlanta Review, Spillway, Kyoto Journal, Cascadia Review, and other publications, and has been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net awards. His collection Cascade-Siskiyou was a finalist for the 2016 Oregon Book Award in Poetry.