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Cori MacNaughton Oct 2015
Autumn arrives
leaves are changing
carpeting the paths in the woods

The first freeze has been and gone
and now warm again
it rains
and rains
and rains some more

it will be days
before we see the stars again
as nature takes a breath
and so do I
Cori MacNaughton Oct 2015
In no way am I ready
for the bluster of winter
the deep freeze
and the ceasing of all things
green and growing

In no way am I prepared
for endless days of cold
the chill inside my house
and the greyness of the skies
for months on end

In no way am I ready
and yet
undaunted in the end
I am unwilling
to give up
Ugh - grey rainy days for days on end - and over my birthday too.  Ugh again.  This is one of those days when I wonder at the wisdom of leaving the warmth of Florida, and of California before that.  This too shall pass.
Cori MacNaughton Oct 2015
From the very first
she gently lifts him
pushes him to breathe
and so the learning starts

He is so clumsy
as she teaches him to swim
she laughs a gentle mother’s laugh
if inwardly

No arms to discipline or hug
yet what a heart to give
to her one small and only son
just twelve feet long at birth

One distant day he’ll near her length
at forty-five or so
and shall remain
the most important thing
to her
upon this Earth
. . . and, finally, one that ends on a up note.

Originally written on 6Feb99, read numerous times in public, and appearing here in print for the first time.
Cori MacNaughton Oct 2015
he exerts himself
no longer

Nothing left
no energy to expend
for simple

He does not eat
or sleep
but calmly closes his eyes
at last
drifting with the tide
returns once more
to land
Originally written on 19 August 1983, about a grey whale that stranded during our severe spring storms the previous March.  Numerous whales and other marine mammals were literally bashed against the rocks by the unusually strong storm-driven waves.
Cori MacNaughton Oct 2015
She had been at sea for three decades
her first voyage at age eighteen
a week after her marriage
in the year of our Lord 1883

She married a sailing man
captain of his own ship
handsome, bearded and tall
a fine commander of his men
as they searched the sea for whales

She loved life at sea
and could imagine no other
the motion of the ship
the sounds of the rigging and the sails
the quiet companionship
with her husband every evening

She was beloved by her husband’s men
whom she mothered well
having had no sons of her own
but nurtured and healed
patched and sewed
bloodied and broken hearts and men

Often she came out on deck
for she knew when they would find them
and though she was in the stern
and the lookout was high in the crow's nest
she saw many whales they missed

She thrilled each time she saw them
awed by their sheer size
marveling at their strength
humbled by their beauty
careful to hide her feelings

Sometimes she could feel
when a whale would blow
and she would call to the first mate
so the men looked at her
as the whale passed unseen

Most times she silently prayed
willing the lookout to search
the wrong spot of ocean
and felt again the pang
of disloyalty to her husband
for he commanded a whaling ship

But then the lookout's call came
"Thar she blows!"
and the men sprang to action
taking after the whale in longboats
while she escaped below

She had seen before the killing
she would not watch again
too many whales succumbed
to exploding harpoons
and a death horrifyingly cruel

And she wondered
what would happen
if only whales could scream . . .
Originally written on 4 Feb 2006 at 11:57 PM.

This poem is very close to my heart, as I have been strongly morally opposed to whaling since childhood, and it was inspired by the following wrenching quote:

The methods have hardly evolved since Dr. Harry D. Lillie worked as a ship's doctor on a whaling expedition in the Antarctic in 1946:

"If we can imagine a horse having two or three explosive spears stuck into its stomach and being made to pull a butcher's truck through the streets of London while it pours blood in the gutter, we shall have an idea of the present method of killing. The gunners themselves admit that if whales could scream the industry would stop, for nobody would be able to stand it."

I recently read the wonderful book "Fluke, or I know Why the Winged Whale Sings" by Christopher Moore, in which , though it is a work of (mostly) humorous fiction, he recounts a factual occurrence of a mother whale attempting to protect her calf from the Japanese whaling ship pursuing them.  In Japan, whales are considered to be nothing more than fish, with therefore no moral reason not to hunt them to extinction, but her actions showed the whalers onboard the ship that she truly displayed a mammalian motherly love, and moved many of them to tears.  

There is still room for hope, but we have to act NOW, and drag our government officials into the 21st century kicking and screaming if need be.
Cori MacNaughton Oct 2015
The White Whale

She swam the gauntlet
Six times, seven
Then took a chance on love
And was rewarded
Far beyond her hopes and dreams

But now this eighth trip south
Much harder than before
And she so weary

Then it went wrong
The water
Kind no longer
Tainted and impure
Took first her child
And then, no longer caring, she

When soon she came to rest
Among the rocks
Almost as if to say
You’ve cared not for my ocean home -
Now you must deal with me.
When I started college, I majored in marine biology, and my primary interests then, as now, were whales and sharks.  

This poem, written on 6Feb99, was about a pregnant female California grey whale, Eschrichtius robustus, which had died at sea and washed ashore on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, in southernmost Los Angles County.  Although in life grey whales are dark to light grey, depending upon age and the amount of barnacles and sea lice encrustations on their skin, after death the outer skin sloughs off, revealing the blubber layer beneath, making the whale appear white to the casual observer.

Local residents were appalled by the stench, as whales' bodies are designed to retain heat and thus decompose rapidly, while biologists agreed that a spike in local bacterial levels in near-shore waters most likely contributed to the death of the whale and her calf.

My favorite scientific name for the grey whale, which I would like to see become California's state animal, is the obsolete Rhachianectes glaucus, which translates literally to "grey swimmer along rocky shores."  I can't think of a better description of these magnificent and loving animals.
Cori MacNaughton Oct 2015
The first in over sixty years
The whooping cranes are living wild
Now one young pair has laid an egg
And, too, with luck, will raise their child

They near Kissimmee were released
Beating the odds, survived to breed
A ray of hope they might increase
And ***** the armor of human greed

But cranes need water as do we
As still we pump the wetlands dry
Our chains of lakes sprout fat resorts
The river of grass condemned to die

Yet dare we dream we might reverse
This harsh inflicted damage done
Still apathy is our nation's curse
Which battles none has ever won

Today I cheer the whooping cranes
Who still have hope that they might see
Upon some far and distant day
Their offspring's offspring flying free
Originally written on 13Apr99, following an article I read about the first breeding pairs of whooping cranes released in Kissimmee, Florida, near Orlando, of which one pair was successfully (at the time of the article) raising a clutch of hatchlings.

We saw occasional endangered sandhill cranes, where I lived in Pinellas County, where the entire county is a designated bird sanctuary, along with literally dozens of other rare and threatened bird species from wood storks and roseate spoonbills to bald eagles and ospreys.
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