The whale that keeps on giving

The wide vast oceans, 

tropical balm and arctic chill,

teem with living things 

great and small 

And  here dwells the whale – 

God’s tiller of the sea –

formed to frolic in its deeps 

and traverse its lengths. 

From an infinitesimal nil 

to 200 tonnes of mammalian flesh, 

its life spans a century full.  

A life of daily gorging and expurgating 10, 

nay, 20 tonnes of krill 

replenishes the seas with iron,

and spins once more 

the phytoplankton’s oxygen giving, 

carbon absorbing wheel.

From the depths the whale

redistributes food, 

sustaining small fry 

that dare not dive so deep.

Migrating between distant poles 

and warmer summer seas, 

the whale spreads the bounty 

of each mouthful it digests

and spins once more

the global food chain’s thread. 

Under the whale’s ocean watch, 

krill and plankton multiply, 

and so God’s worker feeds 

5000 mouths and more.

Its leviathan frame

 a maritime conveyor belt

of sequestered carbon 

that gracefully sweeps the seas 

till finally at whale fall

 it sinks to rest –

a carbon store 

for evermore 

upon the ocean bed.

Author: Judith Russenberger

Environmentalist and theologian, with husband and three grown up children plus one cat, living in London SW14. I enjoy running and drinking coffee - ideally with a friend or a book.

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