Sonnet for a Baby Seal
Not the one you see on television,
Head tilted up to look like a whiskered
Infant, those pleading, liquid eyes . . . this one
Was real, on black Alaskan sand, ridiculous
With an eagle beating its wings against
The seal’s head, both screaming, the pup too young
To get away, too old to die at once.
The eagle, talons buried, pecked at one
Eye only, to force a way in. Of course
I beat the eagle off with driftwood.
Yes, I tried to kill the baby seal. No one
Could say I didn’t try hard enough.
But when I turned to leave, it swam away,
Blinded, silent, bearing news from Hell.
“Sonnet for a Baby Seal” is reprinted from Ourself (Gribble Press. 2011).
Dennis Held received his BA from The Evergreen State College, and his MFA from the University of Montana, where he was awarded the Academy of American Poets prize. He lives in Spokane, and teaches in a writers in the schools program for Eastern Washington University. His work has appeared in Poetry magazine, Alaska Quarterly Review, and many other journals. His first book of poetry, Betting on the Night, was published in 2001 by Lost Horse Press, and his second collection, Ourself, was published in 2011 by Gribble Press.