Orca Coronary Chamber:
A Video Poem

By Corinne Duchesne, Garrett Hope
+ Jill McCabe Johnson

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Read the Poem

Orca Coronary Chamber

Seaweed fronds swept back and forth
like waves flushing the aorta.

We chased herring, a thousand shimmers
of silver, when Mother taught me to swim.

She weaved in and out of the water
and nudged me to surface beside her.

Call and response. Two phases of the same heartbeat.
The constant rhythm of breach, soar, dive, and repeat.

We rippled smooth as eelgrass and ventured into vastness.
Our pod moved as one. An ocean of rollick and plunge.

That cantata still echoes in my arteries and veins.
Ebb. Surge. Ebb. Surge. Even here, estranged

in this circus pool of hop, spin, lap, and turn,
I throb, but I dare not yearn.


This poem is also part of the Impulse to Speak online anthology that will match each orca held in captivity throughout the world with a corresponding poem.



Corinne Duchesne portrait by Felicia van BorkAn award-winning artist for over 25 years, Corinne Duchesne has exhibited in Canada, the U.S., South Korea, and Europe. Originally from Quebec, now living in Ontario, Corinne is a graduate from the Ontario College of Art and Design, studying during her final year with Tom LaPierre in Florence, Italy. She is a professor of drawing in the Faculty of Animation, Art, and Design at Sheridan College.


Garrett HopeDr. Garrett Hope is an award-winning composer, speaker, and coach. His mission in life is to help people find new opportunities and income streams and to take courageous action. In 2020 he delivered a TEDx talk on how music, and the arts in general, can make science more accessible and engaging for general audiences. From 2005 to 2020 he taught at a variety of colleges and universities in Colorado, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania. Currently, he travels the country (and over Zoom) speaking to audiences of creatives, helping them to think business-ly and to put systems in place. Garrett holds degrees from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, University of Northern Colorado, and Colorado Christian University. He is a native of Colorado, but currently lives in Nebraska with his wife and daughter.


Jill McCabe JohnsonJill McCabe Johnson is the author of the poetry books Revolutions We’d Hoped We’d Outgrown and Diary of the One Swelling Sea. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Pacific Lutheran University and a PhD in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Honors include support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Artist Trust, and Hedgebrook. Jill is editor-in-chief for Wandering Aengus Press and likes to wander herself on long through-hikes and reflective meanders.

Read poetry by Jill McCabe Johnson previously appearing in Terrain.org: “Dear World,” a Letter to America poem, three poems, and three poems.

Header photo by divedog, courtesy Shutterstock. Portrait of Corinne Duchesne by Felicia van Bork.

Terrain.org is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, art, commentary, and design since 1998.