Whales Reported Off the Shores of Earth:
Six Perspectives on the Problem


Beware, the whales are rolling in the oceans.
An alien presence moves among us,
with tireless, tidal purpose glides covertly
round the globe, laying down the gridlines
of its net. Possessed of an intelligence
impervious to measurement, they rove
beyond our range, communicating over
vast distances in an inexplicable code.
They dominate the watersphere with their size,
strength, and soundlinks. And what they know
of us already, we can only guess.


Behold, the whales are herding on the oceans.
Cetacea, Delphinus, Manatus . . .
Like icebergs calved from continents, they urge
their masses southward, attendant gulls revolving.
Like tropic isles volcanoed up an inch
above the swells, they plow the waves with plumes.
Like otters they roll and belly up, like falcons
fluke the wind and stoop on blunted wings
down a mile of darkness, hunting squid.
Like caravans of elephants, they graze
savannah seas; in ecstasies of feeding
swathe through teaming acres of ripe red krill,
or guiltless crunch a baby seal in two.
They are the oceans' mighty emperors,
majestic, impetuous, and wild
caterwauling down the sea lanes, or purring
thunder at the roots of the world.


Beyond the world's horizon, whales are roving.
Wayfarer's of polydimensional space,
unlimited by ground or gravity,
they answer to no powers but their own.
Master-pilots of sophisticated vessels,
these Jovian giants navigate with sonar
precision through the infinite ether.
Their foes they stun with laser-bolts of sound,
and in the long, calm transits idly pipe
the joy of their Hermetic minds.


Below, the whales are drifting in their grace.
They pass through all impenetrude with ease,
in lightlessness see all with vibrant sound,
on the firmament of waters, suspended, sleep.
To them the world's a presence more than place,
an open wonder and a soaring void.
They are the clouds and dragons of their heaven,
rendered out, broad-bodied, of the brine,
in-woven with the serpent's coiling fires.
They drink their draughts of breath between the worlds,
and know their knowings in that turning twilight
where realm into realm resolves.


Be still! the whales are sounding in the silence.
Aphrodite's chambers ring with song composed
on twenty-million years' harmonic science:
jazz arias made in new ageless modes.
From tenor shrieks to contrabasal quakes,
they sound the fullest ranges of their beings,
defining the cosmos in melodious shapes.
Such songs! filled with the knowledge of all things,
pregnant with the motherlove of Earth,
rolling with the rhythms of the seas,
wild of the wisdom of countless rebirths,
soaring on the humor of their reveries.
Theirs is the cry of divine exultation,
the joy of all heaven loosed in carnation.


Be sure that whatever the whales are weaving
in the deeps, we know them as magpies know Mozart.
For though they bear in the vaults of their brows
wrinkled brains as fearfully made as ours,
we comprehend the charged auroras of thought
cascading round the cortex of those minds
no deeper than we might remark a shower
of sunsparks dancing over a summer pool:
of salmon spawning in those depths we know not.
Call them brute we may, for being such easy
meat — so much is true of us to sharks.
Or call them wiser than we know, we may —
but we speak from a world as alien
to them as we suppose Andromeda —
our wisdom-words may be as inconsequent
as the drone of our lumbering submarines:
to them the whole is that we cannot sing.
Have they now two-thousand-one millennia
lain listening for us to learn of language?
to join them in the harmonies of the spheres?
We listen outward into emptiness for life
when minds as magic as our own may orbit
inwardly, with ears cocked toward our trawlers.