I came back for scraps---
else could I carry in my dislocated jaw?
With my tough, oily flesh,
chance would I have of finding relatives?
I came for a theory.
A shred of evidence:
"So, in an unsettling Damien Hirst-like
tableau, the bird was beak to beak with its own face..." (Ian Parker, The
New Yorker, January 22nd 2007)
I knew allusions would be required.
certain rustling of papers
as the dead make peace with the living,
that I must wait a considerable length of time,
after a bereavement.
It has been that long.
Here I stand before you wearing just plain skin.
What name will you give me,
one without fur, scales, or feather?
What will you say to a second extinction?
I came to the island of trash, Mauritius, near Madagascar, where there are
certain butterflies and jewels left among corrugated roofs and contraptions to
siphon rainwater into buckets that reek with odorous sulphurs.
I was looking for a fluke.
Perhaps the Dodo bird.
Give me something endemic to the landscape---
no palms, no sugarcane.
Allow me a shell, a bit of coral with some color left in it, mauves that exist only in the imagination.
Can we name those we never knew?
Of the fragmentary Oxford Dodo, shopworn
articles from Nature
and DNA survive.
Let's sift through the passenger pigeon's leavings,
calling cards and mother-of-pearl wings.
Are these our relatives?
do they say
they gather together
When breaking the crust of rock to aid the search
a revered specialist, a man
has traveled beyond tourism
to satisfy his eccentric needs.
How will we deal with fossilized pollen?
excavate shit, mine mud, dig out
till to find a bone.
I came back for this---
"a great fowle somewhat bigger than the largest Turky cock. (ibid.)"
to the circus to see
Dodo who had survived its water passage to
The absurdly large bill frightened me into silence.