Old Whaling Towns

in class we went
beach-combing
along the Derwent River

they taught us about
the spotted hand-fish
kelp forests

agricultural run-off
overfishing toxic
shellfish

they say
there were so many whales
it wasn’t safe to cross

 

and people couldn’t
sleep they were so loud

we ran to the shore
to watch them bleed

 

fill a bay with wine
where now the pademelons
eat bread from your hand
and get sick

it took two hundred years
for whales to come back

I remember being fifteen
running to the beach
to see two – a mother
and her calf

 

now there’s more Airbnbs
than affordable homes

if those whales come back
they’ll have to navigate
an oil rig 

 

that lights up like the trees
at Salamanca place