Whale on China Beach by Richard Outram

Encore Literary Magazine is extremely proud to have permission from the executors of the estate of the late Richard Outram to present work by one of Canada’s great poets. In the months to come, poems by Outram will be periodically featured here, thus helping to keep alive the singular voice of, in the words of Alberto Manguel, “one of the finest poets in the English language.”

Whale on China Beach

Man added a mantissa to your bulk,
Preposterous; a bit of steel and lead
Subtracted you from life: we find you dead,
A stranded, blotched and putrefying hulk.

Conceived and carried, born, you did depend
Like us, with blooded lungs, upon the air:
Yet dwelt within a womb of waters where
You sounded depths we cannot comprehend.

Because you rolled in ardour through the seas
Wherein you were your element, and rent
The fragile purse he streams, incensed man sent
You cunning death: as if death could appease

His tangled motives or his argued right
So to despoil all creatures of their kind,
Whose being weighs no virtue in his mind,
Nor beauty correspondence in his sight.

The very oceans, endless in their sway,
Shall not contain us both. Here, where the sand
Clots shut what was your eye, we understand
This last imbalance. And silenced, turn away.