Why Whales Are Back in New York City
After a century, humpbacks migrate again to Queens. They left due to sewage and white froth banking the shores from polychlorinated- biphenyl-dumping into the Hudson and winnowing menhaden schools. But now grace, dark bodies of song return. Go to the seaside— Hold your breath. Submerge. A black fluke silhouetted against the Manhattan skyline. Now ICE beats doors down on Liberty Avenue to deport. I sit alone on orange A train seats, mouth sparkling from Singh’s, no matter how white supremacy gathers at the sidewalks, flows down the streets, we still beat our drums wild. Watch their false-god statues prostrate to black and brown hands. They won’t keep us out though they send us back. Our songs will pierce the dark fathoms. Behold the miracle: what was once lost now leaps before you.
Copyright © 2017 by Rajiv Mohabir. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 16, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
About this Poem
“I wrote this poem to speak out as our government bullies immigrants. This poem is also a love song to my community: It’s been a century since Indian indenture was abolished, and we celebrate on the streets of a different empire that would rather see our brown faces deported. How beautiful that the whales, once threatened by a fouled environment, retreated and now come back that the waters are cleaner; we have so much work to do.”
Rajiv Mohabir is the author of The Cowherd’s Son (Tupelo Press, 2017), winner of the Kundiman Poetry Prize.
Date Published: 2017-10-16
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/why-whales-are-back-new-york-city