What lives only for a day? I asked,
and it answered: may-fly, cousin of
the dragonfly, naiad for a year before
it's born, with a mere twenty-four

hours to find someone to love. Whales,
on the other hand, live to eighty-five.
From a rowboat in Baja, Mexico,
I kissed one on its rough back, and I swear

to God, it rolled around, quite pleased.
The elderly priest from Lebanon beside me
on the plane ride home looks up
from translating The Old Man and the Sea

into Aramaic, and says, "God wants us
to remain children." So I ask him what
difference it makes whether it's the human
three-score and ten, the whale's eighty-five,

the mayfly's day, or the three years given
to the boy with Taysachs I read about
in the paper whose name means little seal.