It is our collective complacency that killed this calf.
The mother holds her body and her little open mouth aloft
for all to see and it breaks
She won’t let the little girl drop to the sea floor where we could pretend her
birth into stillness didn’t happen.
We don’t want
It hurts too much to carry
the impossible weight of our own
responsibility for her grief,
the grief she
and her family share with us in a plea
And yet we must, we must, we must
see what we’ve done and are
over and over, everywhere
to the miraculous beauty into which we ourselves
have been born.
This mother’s raw expression
washes over the mundane action and inaction we
distract ourselves with,
dissolving me into weeping that doesn’t stop,
a weeping made of the same salty
A tidal wave of keening moves through my body
every time I think of the orca mother,
which is all the time,
I allow to erupt in full as I drive
around my life
in the car, containing it to
a quieter, yet no less complete shuddering
in my office and behind
in my home. I am struck by an urgent,
sense of loss
that consumes me now, like never before,
—even when my own mother
J-35 is the Mother I need to speak to, to embrace. I call out to her
—Momma, Momma, Momma, please
hear my prayer of love to you
in your letting go of what
we mothers can never let go of, the love of our children. I tell her
that I care
more deeply than I
can bear in this fragile body that feels her child’s death as a throbbing
in my own womb.
I touch her with my mind,
through the tears
burying everything else
I ever thought was important,
that I am
Jennifer (Jenny) Coates is an international tax, transactional tax, and business lawyer. Her poems are published in several anthologies including the Grief Dialogues sponsored Just a Little More Time: Stories of Love and Loss, in Ars Poetica, and as part of the Bainbridge Island (WA) Poetry Corners celebration of National Poetry Month. Jenny frequently shares these poems, which help to navigate her own grief, with friends who lost people important to them, in hopes others will find comfort in them too.
Grief Dialogues: The Book (Fall 2018) features Jennifer’s poetry. Pre-orders available soon.
We are now taking submissions for the 2019 edition. Guidelines here.