I hadn’t really thought about it, to tell you
the truth, those bodies sinking
to the ocean floor. The term
sounds like nightfall,
and I picture them coming down
like a huge and lazy rain,
like hot air balloons landing in an open field—that
silence and fascination as
anything meant to be suspended
It’s frightening—the arrival,
the dust, the realization that this
is not graceful after all.
There must be an archipelago of whalefall
along some lines in the ocean—greys
beside California, humpbacks along
the Carolinas. Swimming
and then falling, their bones silent and then landing
and then settled.
The ocean floor is more vast
than the myth of Wyoming—endless
plains, plentiful herds, sky
uncharted still. Cattle
skulls glinting white between the grasses
picked up, decorated with turquoise, hung
on a barroom wall. Not death then, but watchfulness, memory
in its white and hollow-socketed form.
I’ve been trying to decide
which I love more, the dark bodies
falling or the pale and teeming scatter of bones
in the unlit sea. Or maybe it’s just good to know
about landings. The awkward,
with the ground.
Honestly? I need to believe
in the beauty of falling.
The stunning ache of descent and then
its unexpected practicality—
new habitat. Decorated and watching.