by Laura Parker Roerden

Photo © Brian Skerry. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

You can find just about anything you could dream
in an ocean. Tiny horses holding on by prehensile tails
to flat vines that float upwards and shimmer in sunlight like cities.

Red squid that fly with vampire wings and shoot out light orbs
to stun predator or prey. A flat ray with a saw. It won’t surprise you
at all then to learn of a swimming unicorn whale: the narwhal.

Swords drawn, several narwhales move as one. It’s impossible
to know what they seek, but something in their quickening suggests
a quest, as strips of Arctic ice fall away around them like sunburnt

skin shedding. They move in now open ocean. There’s no place
to hide from killer whales; no escape from our hand. If we follow them
we’d see: that everywhere we suffer from wounds that need healing.

The Fisher King himself, we are told, guards a holy grail
in a vast wasteland of destruction; where seas now rise. Is it any wonder why
the narwhals are headed there? Or perhaps they have already arrived?

And what will they discover once their journey is complete? Are they trying
to show us that we should come too? For surely their quest is our own:
for a home where towers of ice do not tumble down around us;

where we heed a wild call for full hearts and heroes to wake.

© Laura Parker Roerden. All rights reserved.

Laura Parker Roerden is the founding director of Ocean Matters and the former managing editor of Educators for Social Responsibility and New Designs for Youth Development. She serves on the boards of Women Working for Oceans (W20) and Earth,

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About the Photo by Brian Skerry
Sea ice and ice floe edge around Navy Board Inlet, Baffin Island in the high arctic of Canada. At this time of year (June) the ice begins to break up and wildlife become more plentiful with animals such as seals, narwhals, bowhead whales and polar bears feeding in the rich waters. Climate change is having an effect on this region, with ice melting earlier during many recent years. (Pristine Seas expedition team working/filming documentary)

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