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Whale Fall

By Abigail Kirby Conklin

When a whale eventually dies, it usually sinks to the bottom of the ocean as whale fall and creates a special marine habitat nourished by the dead whale for decades.

—Royal Ontario Museum



How fast, though?


At what speed

does god’s biggest creature,

Gaia’s eldest child,

the school bus’s top


stop living?


Is there a yawning

cave of sound, like a ship

heaving open

from its heart,

curving downwards

into the hole

of the sea?


Is there

a service? Do the children



If untouched

by man or tuna net

is it heart

or head

that flattens first

on the ocean’s

ticking monitors?


Who is the last

to hear

the stuttering slow

of the life

in its echo chamber,

the end of a song

falling from the metronome

into unknowable



Abigail Kirby Conklin is an educator and writer currently based in Toronto, Ontario. She is the author of the 2020 chapbook Triage (Duck Lake Books), the Substack "Recently," and a variety of other works that can be found in the Tule Review, Sugar House Review, Elevation Review, Lampeter Review, and Wild Roof Journal. She's online at and @akc_poetry_prints.

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