A female North Atlantic right whale with her calf in the ocean.
On the mid-afternoon boat out of Boston,
we headed southeast past lobster traps
and gliding slicks of motor fuel,
all there to run the engine that transported
tourists from flush to a good deal poorer
in the time it took to eat one meal
at Ostra or The Capital Grille.
We were still digesting Quincy Market pizza,
feeling the breeze on our bare legs
poking out from the deck above’s
meager shade, as the hot sun sprayed jewels
off our bow. Above us, a radio squawked
that another boat had spotted her due east and
we canted to port, a vee-shaped churn
of golden foam trailing behind us as we
became smaller and smaller on the
blinding mirror of sea. She soon appeared
off the starboard bow, birds circling her
as if she was a conscious island, the gray queen
sinuously weaving her barnacled weft over
and under the Atlantic’s green warp waves.
And then it was pretty much over.
The boat powered up and sped us back to the
dock in Boston, as we winced with sunburnt legs
and bleary eyes into a sun that was setting
over the city, which bloomed bigger with
each rumble and bump, each passing trawler’s
casting of wakes our way. I remember the image
of the dimming eastern distance, where I
left behind my feeling of human superiority
and all my other images of that day,
having dropped my camera over the side
when I bowed in my audience with the queen.
– Joseph Hesch
© 2015, poem and photograph, Joseph Hosch, All rights reserved