Gail McConnell

Narwhal (1)

Narwhal (2)

Narwhal (1)

This living under glass is all he knows.               
Or living with its threat –
the encroachment
of ice. In Arctic waters
the corpse whale roams.

The fear of suffocation
drives echolocation.

The echo after pulse
confirms/ denies
the dot dot dash dot wish
to live with news of air holes
or their lack.

That horn which is not horn
but tooth, biologists misread.

Jousting lance, they said, his tusk
which seemed less tusk than sword –
a nine-foot spiral-structured blade.

Perforated to perfection, it’s a survival aid.
Our bare life prompts invention.

Narwhal (2)

The beast receives and reads the sea
that purls into each cavity.
He knows where icebergs melt
and form
by measuring salinity.

Any loss of sensitivity
is deathly here, he knows,
though the ocean spreads below,
the ice above, on on it goes – the capture
and release of water in the hollows.

The problem is the cure –
the scouring and discharging sea.

Salt accrues in apertures –
the price of intimacy.