Northwords Now Issue 40

The FREE literary magazine of the North

Bow-head whale

by Mandy Haggith

Two humps of peace on an ocean of ice:
head bump – a modest mountain,
behind it a ridge.

A flow as the head rises,
a gentle puff of exhaled air,
a murmuring blow.

Among the congregation
we might as well have said ‘Amen’
to the emergence of a deity.

Cameras and glasses of devotion
rise in reverence
fall in supplication.

You make no popish gesture,
merely nod your huge head,
return to the deep.

Big behemoth
fellow traveller on the whale-road
we greet you.

How many years have you swum
at your monk-like pace
among this ice?

You could teach us
things we will never learn
as long as we keep scurrying on,

burning,
burning.