Published on Academy of American Poets (

For Transtromer

In the cold heavy rain, through
its poor lens, 
a woman
who might be a man
writes with a can of blue paint
large numbers
on the sides of beached whales—

even on the small one who is still
living, heaving 
there next to its darkening mother
where the very air is a turnstile…

I’m certain this woman is moved
as anyone would be—
her disciplines, 

a warranted gift to us,
to business, government
and our military,

and still she exhibits care and patience
this further 
talent for counting,



Copyright © 2014 by Norman Dubie. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on January 15, 2014. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

About this Poem

"This poem began as a vivid dream of dead pilot whales, and its first drafts were meant to double for a friend, Spencer Hanvik, with whom I am completing an album of songs—though Spencer is responsible for the music and the tailoring of the verse into song lyrics. There’s a repository of some of this work at"
—Norman Dubie


Norman Dubie

The author of numerous collections of poetry, Norman Dubie is the recipient of the Bess Hokin Prize and the 2012 PEN Center USA Literary Award for Poetry, as well as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, among others.

Date Published: 2014-01-15

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