8 February 2009

Whale fall: an assignment of sorts

There is much to do in fleshspace. I have enrolled in a creative science writing course this semester. One of our first assignments has been to write some poetry with scientific subject matter. So here is my first attempt, inspired by the creatures that call whale falls (sunken whale corpses) home. I haven't done this in a good while, so please be gentle in your comments. Constructive criticism is more than welcome, of course.


stirred by this beautiful benthic
metropolis of meat
the glaucous eye of the sleeper shark
trails a parasitic tear
- a lacrimous crustacean

the opaque unseeing eye of
the shark surveys this sunken Atlantis
a city slick with sleek silver things
slimy hagfish; one leucistic octopus
probing the blubber with tentative tentacles

the floral fimbriae of Osedax bloom
from brood sacs embedded in bone
and the fractured skull of this
clam-encrusted carcass currently
serves as headquarters for the grenadier

a curiously noble gesture, then, when the
Leviathan leaves the light for the last time
and descends to these darkest depths
and its cold cetacean body becomes real estate
for blind things made of teeth

Image credit: © 2005 MBARI


Lisa said...

Well that first assignment couldn't have been more up your alley, could it? :)

So glad to see you back here. I'd been wondering what you've been up to.

I think the poem is great, moody, evocative...and I never realized that whale carcasses became condos for other animals. Fascinating.

Anonymous said...

May we have an orchid poem? There are so few of them...

Wendy said...

It's wonderful. xxx

Unknown said...

Lisa: Thanks for that vote of confidence. Actually, this is the first poem I'd ever written in English. My most musical mother tongue is just so much more conducive to poetic thinking, and so all my previous efforts have all been in Afrikaans and quite untranslatable.

Anon: A very good idea indeed! But what would the story be? I would need to find a good angle with enough drama to keep it interesting.

Wendy: As are you.

Chris Eldin said...

Wow! LOVE the last stanza in particular. I had trouble with the science words in the other stanzas, but that goes to my lack of education and not your writing...

Chris Eldin said...

Yes! An Orchid poem~