Two Poems

Oil Spills and Orcas

by Jasmin Lankford

Scatter white lilies in the water to save the Salish orcas.
Southern resident killer whales battle big business boats
as Trans Mountain Expansion engines emit a frequency
masking orca communication among mates.

British Columbia borders watch a whale hold her dead
calf above rough waves for weeks. All mothers mourn
lost babies. Her family, a pod of 30, float on without her.

In the church, lilies line the altar above a small casket.
No one speaks of the silence, even if they’ve felt it before.
There is no body in the box, but a soul swims to heaven.

In ancient Roman mythology, the genus name Orcinus
means “of the kingdom of the dead.” Mourning mothers
accept lilies as crude oil tankers tell orcas their irrelevance
to pipeline production. A kingdom of mothers without
children reign quietly in communities across every species.

Everyone is just struggling to swim with part of their body
weighing them down. Do their wombs recover? Where
is the resting place for whales? 75 orcas live near Seattle
while Chinook salmon, their primary prey, are dying.
Tanker traffic and runoff pollution conceive shoreside tombs.

The church mother by her baby tries not to drown in the death,
nods as people say she can just try again. The orca finally
drops her calf, letting it sink in the sea. A boat spills oil
on its way through wildlife. The lilies die within days.




Jasmin Lankford is a poet, cat mom, and world wanderer native to Florida. She graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in Communications. Once upon a time, she studied Creative Writing in Paris. Her work has been published in Honey & Lime Literary Magazine, Kissing Dynamite, and Ink & Nebula. For more information, visit jasminlankford.com.