There was some prompt harmony today between the Writer’s Digest suggestion to write a beginning or ending poem, and the POETRYisEVERYTHING prompt to write a poem in the voice of an extinct animal. The first that came to mind was passenger pigeons, because I find their story both interesting and terrible. There were an estimated 3-5 billion in North America before European contact, and by the early 1900s, none were left in the wild. The last known passenger pigeon, Martha, died at the Cincinnati Zoological Garden in 1914. Here’s a stab and a start to a poem that could be the beginning of something bigger.
We remember the whir of a thousand wings, the way
each of our bodies read the bodies at our sides.
Sky wave rolling from one cluster of oaks to the next,
we poured into valleys to rest and to feed.
How rapid the change from a few violent blasts,
to a thunder of rifles, the snag of nets,
the bite of flames and grey dust in the nests.
How hollow the wind without us.
Taking a historical perspective on Alberta writing today with Icelandic-Canadian poet Stephan G. Stephansson’s “Seasons in Alberta.” I love the imagery in here, and the line: For her own amusement alone / she teases the four winds