The shag rug of a Great Plains buffalo,
a flightless bird
gone to stone: over its fellow keepsakes,
into the archives of air,
the whale hauled a harvest of dust.
In the ripples of glass
sealed over songbird skins, I wavered.
What could be said for love?
From the Full-Serv to the Self-Serv Island
at the Gulf station next door,
landlocked waves shivered in a row of corn.
The great flukes lifted.
A Milky Way scarred the underside more vast
than the Midwestern night.
Dark cargoes would give themselves up
to these shallows
that waited to take home the sailor,
home to the sea
of fossilized coral upon whose shoals
just down the road
the motels of Coralville lay sprawled.
Here would lie a ring
scratched by a scrivener with florid hand,
In thy breast my heart does rest
flung back to shore, here rest two coins
face to face, joined
by the salt that turned them faceless
as they turned to each other.
Debora Greger, “The Right Whale in Iowa” from Off-Season at the Edge of the World. Copyright © 1994 by Debora Greger. Used with the permission of the author and the University of Illinois Press.
Source: Off-Season at the Edge of the World: Poems