Once, you equaled my size,
two hundred pounds, incomplete
in your cow’s womb, swimming
to Magdelena Bay, Sea of Cortez,
where three tons sloshed into warm waters.

Linnaeus called you Balaenoptera,
the winged-whale. Your fin-wings,
like my hands, sans opposable thumb. 
Your digits now numbering four,
tetradactyl to my pentadactyl limb.

You weighed two hundred tons. 
One hundred long feet long,
displacing the weight of two
thousand men my size. You
lived a man’s lifespan.

Salts called you sulphur-bottom
from diatoms coloring your skin,
like bullies calling you yellow-belly.

Your steam-like spout haled whalers
to titanic tea parties where
they betrayed you, they betrayed you.

We killed blues once en masse.
We killed you the other day
when you surfaced to breathe
above the waves and a propeller
sliced your spine: twice sliced your spine.

We called you Blue, your dead 
eyes mirrored my head size.
We interred your skeleton
and winged-fin hand in compost
to exhume for tourist views.

Dermestid beetles, one-millionth 
your size, honed your bones.
Coliform bacteria, one-billionth 
your size, digested flesh 
from four-fingered, blue-boned fins.

For you, Blue, no more calves
weighing three tons, measuring 
fin-to-fluke twenty-three feet. 

Once, I equaled your size,
two thousand times my own, 
the day I first held my son.

Donald Shephard
Noyo Review Pieces

Since retiring to the coast twenty years ago, Donald Shephard has written two novels, over one hundred short stories and as many poems for his own entertainment. For ten years he wrote articles for the local Audubon newsletter. When he grows up, he aspires to becoming a humorous writer.