The Whale Chronicles

Before Whales

60,000,000 B.C.
North Pacific, China
Annual Cycles

    Our race looks back to origins
    Before beginning. We were born on land,
    With feet and heavy claws.
    Our skins were sleek with hair,
    Infants suckled breasts.
    We scavenged plains, valleys for our food,
    Eating small animals, herbs and snails.
    Breath was our vital force
    As we moved along the forest floor
    Among the grassy meadow foothills.
    Males led the way, followed by the females,
    Adolescents, nursing mothers, juveniles.
    We roamed the woods in herds,
    Fanning out to larger territories.
    Our enemies were tigers, cats whose teeth
    Could puncture bones; our blood spilled
    Fiercely in the aftermath of raging packs
    Who left our skin and feces for the birds.
    Ages cold and hot reduced our race,
    Floods destroyed the trees
    Where deserts burned instead.
    Volcanic mountains increased in height
    And blew our faces into ashes.
    As we rambled toward the shores,
    Famine ruled the lands.
    The only feasts were for the vultures,
    Insects, snakes and parasites.
    The world crumbled as the fires grew.

    Few in numbers could survive, those who did
    Were stronger in their wills, urging to go on
    Against the flash of lava, lightning landscapes
    That terrified even the mightiest.
    At night, roaring creatures complained of hunger.
    By day a thousand animals blindly foraged.
    Arid rivers littered carcasses festering alive.
    Airs were thick with smoke and sulfurs.
    Vapors choked hard nostrils to the pore.
    Tongues inhaled and crackled acrid odors
    And molten gas into our lungs.
    Our mouths were parched down to the roots,
    The starved withdrew, the dead remained,
    A few young bulls and females stumbled on.
    Continental mountains followed oceans
    Ever downward from the flaming elevations.
    Our remote ancestors wandered by pure instinct,
    Searching for solutions to their hunger
    As they hobbled goat-like on the stones,
    Getting caught in crevices, slipping into
    Granite traps and fractures, falling into earth.
    A few did make it to the shores
    Where rocks and cliff met in windswept climates.
    Sandstorms blew old wounds to raw.
    The earth was cold, primeval, cruel,
    And seas churned, waves erupted,
    The tides engulfed sharp cliffs
    Plunging straight down into the unknown.

    Waters received our bodies, braising them with salts.
    Surrounded by unusual solutions
    We learned to float and swim by legs.
    We fished our food: shrimp, lobster,
    Almost anything in reach of teeth.
    We sucked the juices from their flesh,
    No water could we drink.
    At night we slept on land
    As we migrated down the coasts
    Searching for safe sands to spawn
    And rear our infant ones.
    Our hearts beat with the pulse of seas.
    By day we lived among the waters,
    Learning to think and play aquatically.
    Tribal orders changed inside the ocean.
    Our numbers grew to families and clans.
    Bull Males ruled with ruthless mercy
    As we absorbed the teachings of the waves.
    Glimmers, sparks within our minds controlled
    Behavior codes, reforming societies in water.
    Slowly through the generations we evolved.
    By now we slept afloat, nostrils aimed to air.
    We learned to sip long droughts and hold,
    Expel and breathe in rhythms.
    Natural counting increased in size
    To where we could hold a breath much longer
    And dive for richer yields of food.
    After centuries, hind legs expanded into fins.

    One million years of living in the ocean
    Speak the changes in anatomy.
    Nostril rising to the crowns of heads.
    Bodies floating in a sponge of fat.
    Eating more and growing larger.
    Expanding bones to store more oxygen.
    Where breath blows furies did we dive for more.
    In our bones we moved in paces
    Older Whales are groaning on.
    Ocean waters expose their faces
    Roaming in a marathon.
    Migrations traveled further
    Than ever done before.
    In warm lagoons we mated,
    In cold we ate krill more.
    We journeyed up and down the coasts
    Between arctic and equator.
    What we endured the worst
    Was easy eons later.
    Our eyes developed lenses
    To see without a glare.
    Our ears revealed new senses.
    We now had lost our hair.
    Air forced through the throat
    Warbled out in tones
    Yelled by those afloat
    To divers down deep zones.

    Mountains fell by darker regions
    Forbidden to the stranger.
    As we moved along the seasons
    The days or nights were longer.
    Rude words appeared for things
    Like water, pain or anger
    Groaned or grunted, swimming,
    Fishing out of hunger.
    Language toned in syllables
    In tune with shade and meaning.
    There were wise and there were imbeciles,
    Chattering or screaming.
    A voice emits a sound
    By waters yet unmanned.
    Echoes off the ground,
    Resonate, command.
    Shrieks in upward tune meant good.
    Downward shifts spoke bad.
    Rumbles in the oceans would
    Communicate we're mad.
    Following a logic brought
    Us to calculate right distance
    Between echoes caught
    To chart our every instance.
    We left the continental shelves and caves
    To enter deeper waters.
    Bull elders stormed the mighty waves,
    Remembering forefathers.

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