The Sighting







The sad half-written poem scrawled

on the brown cracked bench

due for the poetry group in an hour and a half

never did get completed

as the captain announced

that an orca had been spotted

50 degrees off starboard,

heading north.








I rose, united with others who were once strangers

calculated together

port, starboard, left, right

determined, Yes, the other side

scurried with armfuls of books,

laptops and backpacks and children in tow,

elders teetering at the elbow

standing here together at the rail

watching gray waters and rolling waves

wondering what kind of day

it might turn out to be

what kind of surprise might possibly

be waiting just below the surface,

hoping for a sign, a spotting,

a different ending to the day

between the grief of friends we had left,

keep leaving behind,

the long trek home ahead,

with the anticipation of heavy traffic…

Then! A rippling of waves, a fin!

One! Two! Black fins rolling

side by side together

an elegant dance

a flash of white,

a belly, an eye

as we point and cheer

one, two together –

Can you believe! 

The miracle of this day

the surprise of this passage!

Then closer yet, one, two, three – Five black fins

break side by side rolling,

rolling, rolling through the waves

coming closer and closer


as words turn to shouts



 Can you believe it! 

You could go a long way to Alaska 

and never see anything like this!  

Yes!  What a birthday it has been for the young

girl with hair wild and black in the wind exclaiming

which makes me wonder on all the poems

waiting out here to be discovered,

breaking forth from gray seas!

All that is out here, here on the deck

away from our lostness, outside of our grief

out Here – Here in the bright May late afternoon and sparkling light

and rolling sea!







Come out! Come out!

Come and see the wonder of it all!

All that sends us off the ferry with exclamations of delight

and stories to tell –

the surprise of a passage,

the wonder of the sea,

this moment,

this disruption,

this black fin then four, then five!

Did you see?  Did you see!

This poem revealed in the wonder of time!


Peter Ilgenfritz

Late Monday Afternoon, May 8, 2017

(Completed in time for the poetry group at 7pm that night!)