Its timbres called to mind a humpback’s tune —
a low-pitched whistle rising to a moan —
and yet, I knew, none swam here on this moon.
That otherworldly cry quaked every bone
beneath the skin of cobalt silicone
stretched round the gadgetry that powered me
to flipper through this planet-girdling sea.
A silhouette, beneath the cellophane
of ice which hides the deeps of Ganymede,
resembled a blue whale. I saw its brain
in my imagination, longed to read
its cogitations. Clinging to a weed
akin to giant algae, I observed.
But when it spotted me I was unnerved.
What did it was its eyes. I counted eight,
great bioluminescent orbs all trained
on me. Although I could obliterate
the beast with just one shot, I had maintained
my cool. Yet, even though I had obtained
much data on this moon, this creature’s eyes
were simply far too much of a surprise.
I stayed as still as possible and caught
a resonance I’ll always recollect,
capturing me with a single thought:
“My kind has lived here long before your trek
to Jupiter. Although we’re but a speck,
a mote amid the vastness, on this sphere,
far, far below the frozen crystal mirror,
the melodies we fashion must be stored
by those who have encountered us. Recall
our tones, the news that must not be ignored.
When every living thing on Earth will fall,
you’ll sing these songs of mystery to all
the universe’s lives that will attend
to sounds without beginning, without end.”
We brought a pair of youngsters back to Earth.
By then all toothed and baleen whales were gone.
A few years later one of them gave birth,
a whale with eyes reminding us of dawn.
And so we called her Dawn, a female, drawn
to plankton and, though not quite as nutritious,
the soy-fish treats we tossed, far more delicious.
We left one day and never met again.
Yet now we journey to the furthest star
and everywhere we go, we have a yen
to sing a certain song. Our repertoire
consists of low-pitched whistles rising far
beyond the highest sound in all creation,
voiced with the earnestness of a cetacean.
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