Michael Weiss/Center for Whale Research via AP

I can feel her body against mine, smooth and cold, her body the lick of a tongue, the breath of a wave. Her fins span out from her body and I think I see her move, I think I see an eye flash open, I hope she will rise to the surface and push air from her lungs, spout to the world I AM ALIVE! I know she will rise to the surface and breathe in deep and swim through the murky black, spots of white on her alive and floating against the dark curves of her body.

She does not.

She floats, I push. Her body sings low notes through the water and I sing to her, loud loud loud enough to compete with the engines. So many engines burbling and screaming, in the water and out up over in the air. This is my home! I want to scream back at them but they will not understand. I have tried. I have tried a hundred thousand times and the metal doesn’t listen. We are choking in sound, in sludge, in sine waves sinking into the deep.

We swim, I push, I nuzzle, I hold my baby next to me, I do not eat. I have no appetite for the salmon she cannot have. She was supposed to be the one that made it. I was sure as she grew within me. She would swell our family. She would bring the salmon back to us, fin through the kelp beds, toss herself in the air when it rains. We would all be joyful.

We are not.

We keep moving. We are a family. We are taking her to a quieter place. We will sing her to the salmon, sing her to the sound we knew. We are hungry but there is no other way. No other way.

I have to push, freshwater tears flowing down over my body.

We have to push our song.

We have to sing until they listen.

https://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2018/08/grieving_orca_highlights_pligh.html

Jenny Goff is a sailor, farmer, chef, and writer living on an island north of Seattle, WA.

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