By W. S. Merwin

Gray whale

Now that we are sending you to The End

That great god

Tell him 

That we who follow you invented forgiveness

And forgive nothing

I write as though you could understand

And I could say it

One must always pretend something

Among the dying

When you have left the seas nodding on their stalks

Empty of you

Tell him that we were made

On another day

The bewilderment will diminish like an echo

Winding along your inner mountains

Unheard by us

And find its way out

Leaving behind it the future

Dead

And ours

When you will not see again

The whale calves trying the light

Consider what you will find in the black garden

And its court

The sea cows the Great Auks the gorillas

The irreplaceable hosts ranged countless

And fore-ordaining as stars

Our sacrifices

Join your word to theirs

Tell him

That it is we who are important

W. S. Merwin, “For a Coming Extinction” from The Lice. Copyright ยฉ 1967 by W. S. Merwin.  Reprinted by permission of The Wylie Agency, Inc..