“For a Coming Extinction” (W.S. Merwin)

For a Coming Extinction

Gray whale
Now that we are sinding you to The End
That great god
Tell him
That we who follow you invented forgiveness
And forgive nothing

I write as though you could understand
And I could say it
One must always pretend something
Among the dying
When you have left the seas nodding on their stalks
Empty of you
Tell him that we were made
On another day

The bewilderment will diminish like an echo
Winding along your inner mountains
Unheard by us
And find its way out
Leaving behind it the future
And ours

When you will not see again
The whale calves trying the light
Consider what you will find in the black garden
And its court
The sea cows the Great Auks the gorillas
The irreplaceable hosts ranged countless
And fore-ordaining as stars
Our sacrifices
Join your work to theirs
Tell him
That it is we who are important

[W.S. Merwin]

See also: This imminent extinction. More: Right whales written off. “It is we who are important.

2 thoughts on ““For a Coming Extinction” (W.S. Merwin)


    Tender shadows of twin butterflies
    on the window a mourning dove bends
    to sip from the bird bath looks around
    when I cough can’t see me flies off

    the mystery of the two headless birds
    I found yesterday one in the backyard
    one in front a sparrow and a mocking
    bird still bleeding still unsolved

    the names blur the eyes forget
    there’s a stumbling of the light
    into the wall I hear the body fall

    a crashing through leaves from
    where I sit it looks like me
    a forest dying through fog is all.

  2. Fantastic choice here, Joe. Insightful and poetic (duh, you’re a poet). It’s time (IMHO) for the whale to make room for the other. Yes, we can!!!