Whale Waiting



I knew instantly.  I saw the boats floating

off of Avenue C, near the Redondo trench.

I parked my car in front of the cream building

with the Spanish tile roof.  The building I lived in

when I was thirty.  The building Mike Lasher

helped me move into and then christen.

The building with my studio apartment that

over looked the Redondo trench.  I’d go to sleep at

night dreaming of oceans and waves and salt.

I parked underneath the window I used to

look out of onto the exact spot

where the boats gathered for church this morning.

I walked across the street and sat on the wall.

I waited.  Three sailboats, two fishing skiffs, one

motor yacht, several kayakers and two stand up paddle

boarders waited too.  Bobbing on the water moving

with the shifts in current. Waiting.  Two grays areIMG00013-20100912-1112_2

taking a break, having a snack, before they continue

their migration.  They are stars here.

If we could, we’d ask for autographs. The boats move

together in circles toward the shifting colors and spouts

following the whales like the paparazzi.  I saw the dolphins

surfing in the small waves. They are much more popular

when the whales  are off swimming on another coast.

Board Meeting

Board Meeting

We wonder what they say
as we walk hand in hand along the beach.
They are assembled on the sand
30, 40, maybe more.
White and grey
feathers tattered and worn
decorated with that small orange circle
on their yellow bill.

It’s their weekly board meeting,
Saturday morning congregation
on the sand.
Sharing traumas of the week
like the narcotics anonymous circle of 17 chanting
the serenity prayer
a few lifeguard stations north.

They could be planning a party,
a surprise for Joe,
who will be turning 21 next weekend.
Deciding who will bring the main course,
the side dishes and the dessert.
“Don’t forget to invite his Aunt Bea, the one that lives in Marina Del Rey”
Jean prods Tom.

They could be discussing
how many fish they each caught that week;
comparing species
comparing sizes
comparing stories.
Or the garbage they saw floating in their ocean.
Or their disappointment at the low turnout of visitors to the beach
who brought bread or birdseed to share.
Or the amount of trash they left behind.

They could be confessing
the number of heads they dropped on
looking down
cawing an apology
of their lack of control.

Maybe it’s a support group.
They come weekly.
Today George is making amends for the fight he started with Jim;
George didn’t share the fish guts tossed overboard
from the rusty blue and white Luhrs fishing boat,
instead he swooped in
pecked at Jim and snatched his prize from the fisherman.

They’re working toward acceptance
of themselves and each other.
Appreciation for tattered feathers, orange dots and
uncontrollable droppings on cars and benches and heads.

My husband and I watch
as the meeting on the sand ends.
We listen to them chant the serenity prayer
like the 17 people three lifeguard stations to the North.
“It works if you work it” they squawk,
take flight and catch the wind.


Carolyn Ziel