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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.

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One thought to “Humpbacks Feeding”

  • ellen curren

    Lovely Laura!


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