May 27, 2014

52 Hertz

Written by Corrie Williamson

Read by Joshua Camp Brown

— a letter to Shea in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina


No rebellions from the sea of late, you write. You must be pleased to see it calm, the gray Atlantic, which yearly moves the slender strip of your island a little east, a little west. Across the continent the whale known as the loneliest leviathan on earth roams northward to Kodiak and the Aleutians, singing as much to the silver-furred grizzly kings and to the blue spruce as to its own kind. I can hardly stand to think of it – that solitary keen in the ocean’s dusk. Too high for anyone to hear but a headphone-clad oceanographer in NOAA’s quiet, coastal observatory. (That is, you must know, my favorite of all acronyms.) There are those who suggest the 52 Hertz whale is deaf. Mostly deaf people have suggested this. (Dear Cetologists: have you considered the possibility the whale is singing into silence, into a trembling in his own bones?) Your letter describes a little paper bag full of last year’s white poplar leaves, like plaster chiselings. Pelicans ruling thrones of old pilings. A sable horse by the frosted pond. Your cats inspecting the valleys between one another’s claws. I’d gather them, if I could, sing in their language. I’ll pen this letter on a single olive leaf. I’ll tell you what I saw today: flecked sparrows in the winter brush, cobble-eyed, close enough to touch.