this story

has turned legend in just a few days:

a 20 foot northern bottlenose whale

swimming up-stream

in the Thames River

first spotted

by a commuter

who thought he was hallucinating

as the whale slipped

underneath the Tower Bridge

in an event that has not happened

since 1913

            since records began

            since we can be sure

            since television


            of natural habitat

of how this might have happened

of expert opinions

of “tell me what you thought when”

shallow water

not deep from bottom to top or

surface not deep like 1000 meters

below sea level

a below below depth deep


this whale weighed 10,000 pounds

disorientated perhaps what started

as simply chasing a lover

or food or confused as to belonging


in, at, or near what location

up or down stream

or which way to 40 miles back to the

open sea

where it is possible to hear

where it is possible to speak

where a simple conversation

where perhaps a mother

or the equivalent of family


can you hear me?

with the noise of engines

with the noise of pollution

with the turns of a river

one wrong turn

what they call it


a choice


Lisa Birman & Josepha Conrad