Humpbacks Feeding

by Laura Parker Roerden

We first see the humpbacks at the surface, their mouths ballooning open,
unfolding in pleats like a girl’s skirt caught in the wind.
Seawater and herring is caught now as soup meeting hunger.

There are nine whales, I’m told. Their mouths seem to open up as if
the hinge that holds everything together had suddenly softened; now
bending unnaturally akimbo to reveal a different dawn.

They are bubble net feeding. One chosen humpback leads, diving down
to just above where their prey is gathered: large shoals of shining herring
move as one. She releases bubbles from her blowhole that rise like mercury

or bells, while swimming in a spiral upwards. She also sings
as she goes,

as if there is a need for more music.

The other whales coordinate and push the prey from below
through the canal of bubbles to the surface,

now midwives.

The whales fall back
only to rise again and again and again,
a great maw widening as simple as silk, as sure as truth.

They are simply feeding,
but I look away for the moment glistens too brightly.

I glance back to notice a whale’s single giant eye: a dark circle framed by folds.
I teeter on some edge, as if I might fall into a vortex.

Just then vertigo pulls me down to a deeper heart,
a place to which the humpbacks are returning, satiated for now.

© Laura Parker Roerden 2017. 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, Ltd. and is a member of the Pleiades Network of Women in Sustainability. She lives on her fifth generation family farm in MA.

Subscribe to Salt from the Earth Blog:

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

The Bobcat

by Laura Parker Roerden

I awoke to a moonlit hayfield,
as if entering a dream.

A bobcat, crouched in dried grass,
was staring at me.

I watched back, his frighteningly large outline
a shadow, his two eyes

outstretched as if
handing me something.

He lifted the full moon
from the edge of the now dark hayfield,

turned it on its edge in a
confusing confluence of planes

“Be all that you are,” he whispered,
as he handed me that sliver upended,
a magician with a coin.

I looked inward and saw vast ocean,
a starry night contained;

I spacewalked underwater
and swam beside sharks,

returned flecks of seahorses
to eelgrass, where they held firm
to oncoming tide.

I drifted in currents with turtles
as if pulled by a magnet
home to make nests, where we lumbered on land

held down by memory and rock,
until eggs lay glimmering, tiny lights—
perfect pearls—destined for return.

I awoke when the bobcat
stamped once with his paw,
and lept back into brush,

leaving heaves of grass,

waves upon waves
undulating,

sheaves folding,
and then unfolding the dark.

 

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 has served on the boards of Women Working for Oceans (W20) and Earth, Ltd. and is a member of the Pleiades Network of Women in Sustainability. She lives on her fifth generation family farm in MA.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.