Her great forehead smashes beach,
amphibian assault craft, war-primed
to scatter pups in foxhole-fire chaos.
Yearling calves hover near
for any seal that breaks in terror
to false security of sea.
Yelping pups lunge upon the rocks.
One at water's edge, flippers flailing
in razor-thin zone of vulnerability,
is scooped into the killer's mouth.
Disoriented in the dizzying attack,
some chance waves, and choose death.
High frequency cries of triumph
stuff the ocean, a cruel and comic
pantomime for audience of gulls
that swarm and dive for globs of blubber
spilled into the Pacific waste:
Calves butt beach ball pups,
swim underneath, catch them with their flukes,
flip them like footballs, end over end
for thirty yards,
then race to scoop them up again,
cat-and-mouse game before the kill.
Hunger then is satisfied
-- but a thrashing pup lives.
Mother noses away calves, grabs the seal
gently in her jaws, and carts it to shore's edge,
deposited there shaken, gashed -- but alive,
now with the terrible knowledge
of a superior intelligence,
and of a mercy afforded by gods
whose bellies bulge with slaughter.