A Poem by Cath Drake

The Dolphin Standards Authority    

We live far out in the ocean on a floating HQ 

with the dolphins.  Their hours are more flexible 

but we are all passionate about The Work. 

Sea wells up across our boardroom, so segregation 

is inevitable. We wear hearing aids to decipher 

dolphin but I admit turning mine off during

accounts of the minutiae of coral formation 

or the long-winded gossip of herring – 

I may regret this later in life and realise 

I’ve missed something crucial to science

or survival. Not being water-bound 

has its own restrictions.  The dolphins take on

the complex research and we follow instructions: 

measuring, counting, photographing and 

writing up the reports. Our in-tray overflows 

with queries and proposals that we interrogate 

on each new moon in a packed boardroom. 

We’re getting better at asking the right 

‘why’s and ‘how’s and sensing a deeper 

bodily instinct about how the world works. 

An elderly dolphin once described how 

mating blue whales exacerbate melting icecaps. 

I took notes, asked questions as I’m supposed to, 

but the dolphin squeals became louder and louder. 

Of course, I’ve accepted my inferiority, my need 

for sleep. Blurry underwater vision is no match

for their ability to sense danger across vast distances

and anyway, it feels right after all that’s happened.

Australian Cath Drake‘s collection, The Shaking City (Seren), highly commended in the 2020 UK Forward Prize and longlisted in international Laurel Prize, followed Sleeping with Rivers, a Poetry Book Society choice & winner of the Seren/Mslexia pamphlet prize. She hosts The Verandah, quality online poetry teaching & events, and is an award-winning journalist and mindfulness teacher with a specialism in environmental issues. https://cathdrake.com