Monday, September 19, 2016

The Hyannisport Manatee

A couple of days ago when I went for a walk on my favorite lesser known beach, I met a man  coming from the other end of the beach who told me there was a manatee -- it was up where "that last group of people" were.  I started walking much faster than usual but it was not to be seen by me --
however a small group of  boats were gathered in an area some distance out. I even saw a kayaker paddling in that direction so I believed the man had told me the truth but the manatee was happier far enough from shore not to be visible expect by boat and I was not sure the boaters saw him either ... although I don't know.  This was the second wayward manatee, so far as I know (I don't read the local paper athough I do hear local news on the radio) this summer.  And I heard that a year or two ago another manatee was in our waters, was captured by the appropriate rescue organization and was put into a tanker truck and sent back to Florida. Except that unfortunate beast died somewhere on the way.

I looked up pictures and some information about them -- I've never actually seen one -- and I wrote a somewhat silly little poem but I dis try to make a point about the changing climate and that it is messing up the lives of a great many kinds of animals -- also birds and, of course, quite a lot of humans as well.  Here is the poem.

The Hyannisport Manatee

He-she-it is the second this summer,
lost, paddling through oddly warm waters,
— how long can a manatee swim free
out in the depths of the sea?
Poor manatee hasn’t a cute wrinkle
on his baking-potato-like body
and yet you can’t help feeling sorry
for the critter from Okefenokee.

A year or two ago kind locals rescued another
—for all we know it could have been this one’s brother.
They put him-her-it in a big tanker truck
and headed down to Florida. But bad luck!
He-she-it gave up the fight, north of Georgia.
one sloshing nasty bumpy night.
Will this one face a similar plight?

What to do when the climate is so muddled
animal instincts become befuddled?
Take pity on them and try to rescue?  Yes!
Shouldn’t we announce loud and clear
climate change happens everywhere, even here?
What about TV news?  Well, unfortunately
nothing is photogenic about a manatee.
not a make-over candidate is it/he/she.
Anti-ugliness discrimination needs a  mascot.
All of those in favor of a manatee, please shout
“lost and loveless manatee, you are me.”

(postscript) Stanley Kunitz wrote a very, very fine poem called "The Wellfleet Whale" quite a few years ago. I've heard it called one of the ten greatest American poems.  I wouldn't presume to put any of my writing in the same category as Kunitz, but the sound of my title echoes his.

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