Oil Spills and Orcas
by Jasmin Lankford
Scatter white lilies in the water to save the Salish orcas.
Southern resident killer whales battle big business boats
as Trans Mountain Expansion engines emit a frequency
masking orca communication among mates.
British Columbia borders watch a whale hold her dead
calf above rough waves for weeks. All mothers mourn
lost babies. Her family, a pod of 30, float on without her.
In the church, lilies line the altar above a small casket.
No one speaks of the silence, even if they’ve felt it before.
There is no body in the box, but a soul swims to heaven.
In ancient Roman mythology, the genus name Orcinus
means “of the kingdom of the dead.” Mourning mothers
accept lilies as crude oil tankers tell orcas their irrelevance
to pipeline production. A kingdom of mothers without
children reign quietly in communities across every species.
Everyone is just struggling to swim with part of their body
weighing them down. Do their wombs recover? Where
is the resting place for whales? 75 orcas live near Seattle
while Chinook salmon, their primary prey, are dying.
Tanker traffic and runoff pollution conceive shoreside tombs.
The church mother by her baby tries not to drown in the death,
nods as people say she can just try again. The orca finally
drops her calf, letting it sink in the sea. A boat spills oil
on its way through wildlife. The lilies die within days.
Flower Petals and Ant Piles
I’m standing in an ant pile. I didn’t realize I planted my roots here.
Sometimes, it’s hard to really feel the hurt until after a few bites.
But the first drop of blood that leaves my body rejoices. Hallelujah.
This is worship before the sermon & my tears don’t wait for amen.
I didn’t understand how the ant bites infected me until I itched them.
An addictive pain, a smile, a scream, & a praise. My body isn’t numb
just yet, my petals can still bloom after the blood if I apply ointment
to my wounds like communion. Blessings. But I’ve forgotten how to pray,
how to ask for forgiveness, how to forgive. So I let the ants bite again,
tell my body she deserves the hurt for believing her flower was supposed
to do anything other than wilt. This is more than pruning, it’s a promise.
A photosynthesis cycle without a sabbath. The colony come for me.
I don’t try to uproot my stems, I stay. Ask him for the verse, hope
to understand its hidden meaning, hope to still see God in him, in me,
in life. Hope to leave before the benediction.
Jasmin Lankford is a poet, cat mom, and world wanderer native to Florida. She graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in Communications. Once upon a time, she studied Creative Writing in Paris. Her work has been published in Honey & Lime Literary Magazine, Kissing Dynamite, and Ink & Nebula. For more information, visit jasminlankford.com.