Blog Post / Fall 2016 / Poetry / Poetry 2016 / Volume 47

The Wreck of the Leviathan–Jeff Bernstein

From sunrise to sunset
wet-suited bobbins float offshore.
Tsunami Zone warnings adorn the dips and
rises of the park roads that lead to the long reach
of sand. How do those surfers choose?
They might say they are looking
for promises of a religious experience.
Don’t we all believe at some point,
impossible to remain agnostic
while the gray whales pass and spume,
black water swirls near the reef?

Who is to say what leads people
who can choose where to live
to come to this place on the wild Pacific?

In the forest, plants grow
slantwise from tree branches right
under your eyes and moss drapes
the age-old cedars. Sea Lions throng
Plover Reef: one loud, stinking party and
those who strained to catch the revelers
found themselves on the wrong side
that late October Sunday. The news entered
Tofino the way he imagines
the ancients mourned, rent their garments.

What you don’t hear afterwards
penetrates even deeper.
When two planes departed Boston, met
their end a few hundred miles south
at lower Manhattan, no one raised a voice
for what seemed like eons. In deep space
the quiet makes the oxygen-filled silence
of the temperate rain forest seem like Times Square.

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