Sea Waif

At Kioloa Beach

No dolphin it was, but a six-month suckling whale
gashed and shark-mauled, tribeless, motherless,
a twelve-foot half-ton ocean waif
pressing to the beach in search of succour.

Twice pushed to sea by helpers, holiday-makers,
twice it returned, starved, bleeding, blowing,
sucked human hands for the lost teats,
clicked Save My Soul as clear as Morse.

Salt pain quickened a warm convection current:
Ken, Betty, Craig, Stephanie, Fi, Elaine
days, nights, wrestled to save a life
nursed, fed, caressed with touch and voice,

in rain, dark, cold, laboured unheedingly
tended the whale with drug, salve, heart’s devotion,
science and care alike in vain.
Was it in vain or not in vain?

Dying, it nudged and knew its comforters.
The coast of life and death glimmers with wonder
Mother Teresa in Calcutta
eyes that know love before they darken.

Richard’s choice

Poems of Nature