Dolphin Encounter

He continued to stay a somewhat long time at Oenoe, until the young men,
suspecting Hesiod of seducing their sister, killed him and cast his body into
the sea which separates Achaea and Locris. On the third day, however,
his body was brought to land by dolphins while some local feast of Ariadne
was being held. Thereupon, all the people hurried to the shore, and
recognizing the body, lamented over it and buried it, and then began
to look for the assassins.

Contest of Homer and Hesiod
translated by H. G. Evelyn-White

This is how I dreamed it, last night, half asleep
     in the stillness, drifting on the surface:
That with their instruments they had finally managed
     to hear our singing, far out in the depths,

That they had studied the pattern of our journeying,
     our coming and going over the ocean’s meadow,
Our way through the waves; and that they had perceived,
     among these deep rhythms, the flow of our songs,

Our music, our beckoning to one another. Their own stories
     had begun to have a new meaning for them,
Their old legends. As children they could remember
     being told about their own kind falling

Into the sea, and yet being miraculously rescued –
     how we came to save them, how we lifted them
And carried them to safety. They told these stories
     long ago, when their race was still young,

And all this time they wanted to believe. Yet gradually
     they forgot the truth of their own singing,
They could no longer believe their myths, could not face
     the truth about themselves and who they are,

Where they came from, where all of us come from,
     how the sea is our mother, how it is she
Who lifts us up, who rocks us in her arms even
     as we sleep. This they are not capable

Of remembering, with their machines, and yet now
     they have begun bringing us into their pools,
No longer asking us to jump or do tricks, no longer
     exhibiting us to noisy crowds, but looking on

While we swim about, waiting, offering us food,
     finally entering the water themselves, coming
Closer, reaching to touch us, hoping to grasp the truth
     of the old stories, or even the new. Hoping

To find something to believe in, some old knowledge
     they once possessed, about themselves, but have
Lost, or forgotten, being no longer able to stay up,
     being afraid, and so very far from home.


© 2005 Jared Carter

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