After the first recorded whale fall, 1977
We say goodbye, lying.
Still there might be
a moment of sadness at her turning—
the great blue wash of her fin
a fading wave.
Sunset over the spreading sea.
the black pool of her eye
dripping into the beckoning deep:
sweet kiss of hagfish and sleeper shark
tearing her bruised plum body.
A seed dropping like a stone.
On this the barren planet of the seafloor
her bones bloom,
bristleworms making a home in her ribs.
If she had a heart
they would let it rot,
too enamored with her rib cage
to pay it mind—
her brittle-edged bones
home, hearth, and harvest.
But who is she, great blue mother,
to the unimaginably small?
a grain of sand
eats at her with less indifference—
the equalizing embrace of bacterial mats
consuming her lipids, her sulfides
for limpet shells
and clam teeth.
Crumbled and granulated at last.
We say hello again, Trieste,
see her face in every snail shell,
in every glint of fish scale
in the froth off every wave
that rolls over her great blue.
“Hello Again, Trieste” is the third of six pieces in ROOTED, which won the Gold Medal Portfolio Award for writing sponsored by the New York Times in the 2023 Scholastic Arts & Writing Awards.