Sea Elephants


Bright green plateaus above sandy cliffs
Form a cup into which the waves flow.
Long curving ripples swell beneath the sea’s skin,
Break through the surface as smears of foam
And vanish on the washboard tidal flats.

With the waves come dark, shining forms,
Conical snouts on comical faces.
Big black eyes glisten in early sunlight
As mother and young elephant seals
Return to ungainliness from a morning of fishing.

When the water no longer buoys their bulk
They begin to make their bodies into waves
Of undulating blubber-coated  muscle,
Flopping forward on too-small flippers,
Trailing tail fins like tattered streamers.

Up onto the sunny beach they haul themselves
Belching, snorting, grunting and irritably groaning.
They hunch their sausage bodies up onto the warm sand
And jostle each other for space above the tideline.
Heads rear up and lunge to clear the chosen space.

The mottled young seals follow their mothers’ mass
Asserting their needs with high-pitched cries and whines.
Covered with sand from their clumsy floundering
They push their way to their mothers’ rich milk,
And begin to doze in the sun as they feed.



© 2008 Michael Yanega
30 September 2008





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