Self-Portrait of a Blind Man at Evening
Maybe you’ve seen him by the harbour
in the south wind, listening, trying to hear
over waves the distant fugue whale pods
still continually compose off Chile
in groans of carbon compressing to diamond,
in the grind of glaciers over granite.
Maybe you’ve watched him turn the blue
heron’s beak to a compass, trace the sky’s
arc to the horizon, take the obtuse
triangle of neck and wings for an easel,
sketch underdrawings with charred lashes
plucked one by one from his eyelids.
Maybe you’ve studied the twisting lips,
the slow pendulum swing of tongue
from corner to corner of his mouth,
and the adam’s apple bob bob bobbing
in time with the channel markers’
relentless rise and fall on the waves.
Maybe you wish to ask these questions
swarming on rapid black wings under
the moon swelling like a tumor in the sky,
ask him if the sun’s already fallen
among the trees and burns there in autumn
leaves, blackening boughs for winter.
Will he answer you? No. He’ll stand there
intent on the whales’ slow song of Pablo.
So? Listen with him. They sing how to fill
a mouth with salt, and veins with the green
cryogenic sea. Listen. Maybe you will learn
what to preserve, or when to persevere.
Blue Whale call (turn up your speakers: “Low vocalizations of a Blue Whale. Much of the calls are generally below human hearing. Sounds provided by the Bioacoustic Research Program and the Macaully Library at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.”)