ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS: THE RIGHT WHALE

They think that if she waded in a stream or lake, the fish would die.
The whale was known as right because it was
magnificent with oil, slow and easy

to find and slaughter, floating even when dead.
But after it was no longer needed for fat,

men still hunted the whale for its rich mouth
of baleen, harvested for hairbrushes,

buggy whips, umbrella ribs, the stays
of corsets - vain things designed to mold the female

body, sculpt a waist so small a man's
hands could meet with ease around it. Crazy,

the girls agree, the way those women bought it.

by Claudia Emerson

Other poems of EMERSON (45)

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