Let me first ask –
is it ok to wish for waves?
The South Sound is too calm to mount.
We see no breadloaf vans spilling surfboards
in the street. No swells, no breaks. So I ask –
is it ok to wish for waves?

Here is a good place for a mother’s reminder-
be happy with what you have.

But how be happy?
The lordly boy stands pearl-kneed
in a sea that never much stirs.
The hollow parts of his body
commune with the deep but needs must

Why so much sea if no waves come?
No rhythm, no thrum.
Though the tidal brine climbs his thighs
it recedes without heat. He knows no moon –
no salt-pound to sting his whalebone shins
and by dusk he implodes with curses.

That sacrilege calls to the altar
the long canoes of the Salish – carved here with eagle,
here with salmon – paddled up and tied to a fire hydrant
until an overfished Indian can climb out and
shout across the bike path

the Lushootseed word is whulge

Oracular, he divines a mute future
in the swirling oil on his coffee, then
scoffs as he dumps it through a drain
painted like an orca’s mouth and asks

why say whulge

That name’s as full of sound as sound itself
and yet the Puget makes none unless the storms come.
We simply haven’t here that sort of sea.

               Ten thousand years ago
a Duwamish mother with scrimshaw skin said


because it was the sound she heard
when her hollow boy imploded,
bone deep in the kelp-rot of another warless summer,
wishing for waves.

3 thoughts on “Whulge”

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