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Dedicated to Henry Beston's literary classic and the
spirit of life on the Great Outer Beach of Cape Cod

Other Nations

(for two Henrys, Thoreau and Beston)

We call transient meat-eaters, "Bad Boys."
They patrol shorelines for Steller Sea Lions
or Harbor Seals, land-sneaking, pup-snatching,
playfully ripping, tearing, batting fresh
meat to pieces. Listening carefully,
they slither by drowning granite mountains,
preying for a rare falling mountain goat,
or perhaps a swimming black bear or moose.

Fish-eating residents, the friendly ones,
travel in pods led by their matriach,
perhaps great-grandmother to every one.
They break into family groups, packs like wolves,
hunting wild salmon, echolocating.
Sometimes many pods create superpods,
They line up facing each other, foreplay,
clicking, squeek-moaning, ritual mating.

We flatter ourselves if we believe we
had once to lose the senses they possess.
Brethren to some, underlings to others,
life pasturing freely where we humans
rarely wander to those who lean on rails
from tour boats and gush over each tail lob,
spy hop or breach. They should be so lucky,
fellow prisoners in life’s timeless net.

Moving finished and complete, an ancient
saline world, inferno and paradise,
these pelagic demons extend their sight,
touch, hearing, speech, aware of benthic
voices beyond landlocked understanding.
They are not our brothers, are not our slaves.
In truth, they are other undiscovered
Orca nations, light years beneath our decks.

-- Doug Capra

The author teaches writing and history for the Kenai Peninsula College, and also is a park ranger for the Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska. He has also penned the foreword to "Wilderness" by Rockwell Kent, an author and artist that he’s written about extensively.