Packed ice of blinding white turns light blue at far skylines.
Nearby, an ice hole, ten feet across, reveals
A school of white Beluga whales,
The size of dolphins, swimming underneath.
Having to breathe every half hour, they surface
In strict rotation, then dive again.
In this repeating pattern the friction
Of warm-blooded bodies against the ice
Prevents the hole from freezing over.
From far away a polar bear pads wearily towards the hole
And peers into the water, freshly churned.
Where there is movement there is life.
He sits on his haunches and waits
For the cycle to begin again.
When the first whale breaches, the bear draws back
Then dips in a curious paw.
He has starved for several weeks;
This is his only chance, until the thaw.
The cycle ends; he waits for the one to follow.
He claws the mammals as they turn and tumble.
Several times they drag him in;
Each time he struggles out and rolls
In the snow to clean his fur of salt.
He continues to wait. Hours pass.
One whale is scarred and weakened by repeated mauls
But must struggle up for air or drown.
Nature holds them both in thrall;
One flesh will be another’s meat.
It is clear-cut, simple to a fault.
Soon, the bear gains a purchase with his claws
And wrestles the scarred whale out.
The kill is quick. He feasts on red meat
And blubber until he can eat no more.
He pads away, his face half red with gore.
Arctic foxes and white gulls come next to feed.
Then they follow the bear whose blood-stained head
Stands out against the wastes of white;
They follow the purity of blood.