Skip to main content

Grey Sparrow Journal and Press, as of January 31, 2018 will move to

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
Contact Us

An Embrace of Penguins


The Inuit inhabit a vocabulary of snow,

a white world of adjectives

undetected by color-blinded eyes.

A world away Emperor Penguins do not speak

their single word for survival.


The polar shelf severs the relationship

of ice to water with a cleaver’s abruptness.

Throughout the hollow winter gusts

and currents of tectonic anguish tear

at the shelf as if to remake the continuum.

The windward huddle outriders stare

into the face of torment with unerring vision,

their eyes slit aerodynamically from nostril flare

to ear and carpet-woven feathers slicked

by the gland of sacred duty. When even this resolve

peels away like sheet-frost, self-preservation

sheds them from the collective.

The huddle recoils – a savior forsakes

his divinity in momentary despair

with a plea that radiates strange hope –

then disgorges new shieldsmen

and absorbs into its blood-warmth

the frozen and redundant.

Salvation shuffles downwind.


An exploration of scientists sits, stands

and folds itself around a video monitor,

its high-resolution images clear

as a lodestar. Where we see

a fetching vaudeville of heroes

their minds swell with a universe

of time-delayed clockwork penguins,

atoms dispersed in glass, whey separated

and reimmersed in milk. Their observations

emerge as weighted syllables into harbinger silences.

Together they shape the contours of a bell-casing

poised to chime into the concurrence

of other voices: their intonement

a liturgy for the measured world.


                                                                        —Paul Scully