Bestiary for the End Times

Orcas of the Pacific Northwest (are Starving and Disappearing) (Puget Sound)
She grew for a year and a half in the belly of her mother, the whale the researchers called J35.
She began her new life backward – tail first into cold water and a cloud of blood.
She rode to the surface on still-soft fins.
The white patches of her skin glowed orange.
Through the nostril on top of her head she filled her lungs with air.
The sky above was bright.
Great sleek bodies swam close playfully whistling and clicking.
On a nearby boat someone peered through binoculars and realized something miraculous was happening: a newborn calf swimming beside J35.
But by the time the researchers arrived there was no tiny orange orca alongside J35.
There was only another dead calf.
Her body began to sink, but J35 refused to allow it.
J35 scooped the body onto her forehead, tried to keep it afloat.
Whenever the body slipped away J35 retrieved it.
By sunset she and her pod had crossed the strait swimming slow circles in the moonlight.
J35 kept the calf afloat day after day after day.
By the time the calf finally sank 15 days had passed.
By the time the news was printed there was only another dead calf.
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