Poems by Sally Blumis-Dunn
The whales can't hear each other calling
in the noise-cluttered sea: they beach themselves.
I saw one once-- heaved onto the sand with kelp
stuck to its blue-gray skin.
Heavy and immobile
it lay like a great sadness.
And it was hard to breathe with all the stink.
Its elliptical black eyes had stilled, were mostly dry,
and barnacles clustered on its back
like tiny brown volcanoes.
Imagining the other whales, their roving weight,
their blue-black webbing of the deep,
I stopped knowing how to measure my own grief.
And this one, large and dead on the sand
with its unimaginable five-hundred-pound heart.
in the dried fallen leaves along the path,
as when I speak to my old mother, and her eyes
widen for a moment then close.
She sits in her chair,
tweed jacket, well-coiffed,
looking as she did in her day,
though now someone else must dress her,
lift the blouse from the hanger,
help her slip it on,
the way she once did
for me. Grab the cuff, she'd say.
The soft tunnel of sleeve
would hold me.
Sometimes we sing.
She only vaguely mouths the words,
though occasionally she'll drift
along on a note like a leaf lifted by wind
before it stills.
If I sit by her on the couch
she'll put her head near mine,
my hand in hers.
Her body is how
she remembers now,
the way the growth of a tree,
the twists of its branches recall
the rain, the snow, the sun.
Sally Bliumis-Dunn's third, collection, ECHOLOCATION, was published by Plume Editions/MadHat Press in 2018. Her poems have appeared on Poets. Org, Paris Review, Poetry London, among others.
"Echolocation" has been published on Poets.org, Rebecca Foust's WOMEN'S VOICES FOR CHANGE: POETRY SUNDAY. It is the title poem of her third book.
"Mother" appeared in Gibson Fay LeBlanc's column in THE PORTLAND PRESS HERALD; it was read on Maine Public Radio's POEMS FROM HERE by Stuart Kestenbaum.. Both poems published by permission of the author.