White-sided Dolphins

When there was no doubt,
no mistaking for water-glint
their dorsal fins’
urgent cut and dive

we grabbed cameras, threw ourselves
flat on the fore-deck. Then,
just for a short time
we travelled as one

loose formation: the muscular
wingers, mothers-with-young,
old scarred outriders
all breached alongside,

took it in turn
to swoon up through our pressure-wave,
careen and appraise us
with a speculative eye

till they’d seen enough,
when true to their own
inner oceanic maps, the animals
veered off from us, north by northwest.

from The Tree House (Picador, 2004), © Kathleen Jamie 2004, used by permission of the author and Macmillan Publishers.

Kathleen Jamie in the Poetry Store

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