The Final Appeal

Jun 29, 2018

Today’s poem is “The Final Appeal” by Linda Aldrich. She has published two collections of poetry, Foothold (Finishing Line Press, 2008) and March and Mad Women (Cherry Grove Collections, 2012). Linda lives in Portland and teaches English at Southern Maine Community College. She co-hosts the monthly Local Writers at the Local Buzz reading series with Marcia Brown. 

She wrote “The Final Appeal” after introducing the argument essay process to her freshman composition class at Southern Maine Community College. She writes, “I often feel I learn more from my students than they learn from me.  It is both humbling and heartening.”

The Final Appeal
by Linda Aldrich

Argument comes from Latin, arguere, to make clear,
to shed light on something, I say, and just then, the sun
comes out and fills our cold classroom,

and out the window, the ocean that was so dark is now
diamonds on the water, says my student
whose father is a fisherman, and I think of him

on a day like this, of his chapped hands and the shapes
that loom beneath him: the whales, the dolphins, the giant squid.
Last week, I tell them, eledone cirrhosa, curled octopus, were found

dying on a beach in Wales, and the townspeople gathered
the soft sacks of their bodies and dropped them back into the sea,
which gives those people a lot of credit in my mind, I say,

lends them ethos, and then I tell them that Aristotle would send
his students out to the beach to count up the number and kinds
of molluscs for logos, the evidence from which to draw reasonable

conclusions, and my student, the comedian, wonders
why you would care how many molluscs there were unless
you owned an oyster bar, and much to his pleasure, we laugh

at that one, but my student from Somalia says we should care
because so many animals are going extinct, and wouldn’t it be sad
to have an earth without animals, and if we really wanted to know

something, the ocean is full of drowned people because
no one is counting them, and no one is picking them up,
his words closing in around us like sea smoke. 

Poem copyright © 2018 Linda Aldrich.