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Notes on a Mass Stranding

By Kamilah Aisha Moon

I.
Huge dashes in the sand, two or three
times a year they swim like words
in a sentence toward the period
of the beach, lured into sunning
themselves like humans do--
forgetting gravity,
smothered in the absence
of waves and high tides.

II.
[Pilot whales beach themselves] when their sonar
becomes scrambled in shallow water
or when a sick member of the pod
heads for shore and others follow

III.
61 of them on top of the South Island
wade into Farewell Spit.
18 needed help with their demises
this time, the sharp mercy
of knives still the slow motion heft
of each ocean heart.

IV.
Yes--even those born pilots,
those who have grown large and graceful
lose their way, found on their sides
season after season.
Is it more natural to care
or not to care?
Terrifying to be reminded a fluke
can fling anything or anyone
out of this world.

V.
Oh, the endings we swim toward
without thinking!
Mysteries of mass wrong turns, sick leaders
and sirens forever sexy                                             
land or sea.
The unequaled rush
and horror of forgetting
ourselves

Added: Monday, July 7, 2014  /  Used with permission.
Kamilah Aisha Moon
Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Kamilah Aisha Moon's work has been featured in Harvard Review, jubilat, The Awl, and Poem-A-Day for the Academy of American Poets. She has been selected as a New American Poet presented by the Poetry Society of America, a Pushcart Prize winner and a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. A native of Nashville, TN, Moon is the author of She Has a Name (Four Way Books) and holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College.

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