While sound asleep within dead of night,
I heard a voice, perhaps it was a dream….
Dark voice called out for me to wake.
I rose and paced the room,
Knowing I could not sleep again,
Drove down to nearby beach,
Stood upon the quay to watch emerging
Morning light begin to drive the dark away.
Through dying night I lost restless sense of peace.
At first I thought it feverish imagination,
But slowly dawned visible through gloom
Presence of dark body, bloated, floating,
Like a great wheel slowly rolling in breaking waves.
All was silent but the murmur of the tide,
Body drifted closer, drawn inside the silence.
Now I could no longer hear the sound of the sea.
My breath was shallow as waves that washed
Upon the waiting shore.
The world was still as the body, clearly naked,
Tumbled numbly on the sand. Now in greater light
I saw it was a dolphin, dead, no smell of blood
Yet stench of death was in the air.
Still, I felt no fear, no rising of hair upon nape of neck,
No prickling of the spine but coldly curious as a doctor,
Observed great wound upon its side.
Down upon the sandy floor I walked,
No intimation of dread, yet heart as heavy
As penitent on knees in church,
Confessing murderous sin to priest.
But why had some Voice within,
Some ancient god called me to this place,
To witness such an awful sight as this?
Then along the corridor of feeble mind
I heard the wordless answer…..
One day my own death shall come,
Warmth of blood made cold against black iron.
If I do not witness such small tender death as this,
Then all the more I’d be swallowed by my fear,
Strangled by clinging attachment to the world.
Reluctantly I pause and learn dark reality as this—
Nothing lasts. Calmly face when it’s time to let go.
There is nothing to be feared in death.
I hesitate, hold spiritual breath, refuse to turn away,
Offer prayer for this past life now lying at my feet.
Already its skin hard waxen stillness, no moving eyes or tail.
Soon the gulls and crabs will have their feast,
Good fortune found in eager work of desecration.
Called to witness such perversity,
Compassion flows within the heart,
Gently touch the beast to offer blessing.
Somewhere know I must carry gray-blue imprint,
Heavy wound of my future fate glowing faintly,
Cast out among dying morning stars,
Weight of inner work for today and also for tomorrow.