By Annie Reeder
9th grade, New Tech High @ Coppell, TX

With lines from "Gray Whales Are Dying Along the Pacific Coast" by Daniel Wolfe, a Pulitzer Center reporting project

(The stage is set) 
Coast alive
Bay filled
With gray whales playing
To the tune of
Of puffs of air
Breaking the surface
Of a song too ancient
Too powerful 
To name

The Arctic
Trapped in a perpetual
Decrescendo, ritardando
(Gradually slower, softer)
As the chorus of crustaceans
(Exit stage right)
And whales struggle
Wither away
Desperate to ensure
(The show goes on)

Touring continues
Seasons scarred by strandings Five hundred thirty-one
Symphony scrambling
To replace its players
Song switched to
(die away)

But the song is not lost Has not reached
(the end)
Simply a
Grande Pause
(extended break)
It will crescendo again

And gray whales will
Once more

Annie is a rising sophomore from Coppell, Texas. When she isn’t running cross country or on the wrestling mat, you will usually find her with her nose in a book. She believes that education and awareness are essential in bringing change to issues in our global community. Having always had her eyes and heart open to the world around her, Annie was both excited and grateful for the chance to write and share about the struggles of gray whales in the face of climate change.

Read more winning entries from the 2022 Fighting Words Poetry Contest.