Monday, November 28, 2011

The Morning Reading: "The Animals are Leaving"

The Animals are Leaving
by Charles Harper Webb

One by one, like guests at a late party
They shake our hands and step into the dark:
Arabian ostrich; Long-eared kit fox; Mysterious starling.

One by one, like sheep counted to close our eyes,
They leap the fence and disappear into the woods:
Atlas bear; Passenger pigeon; North Island laughing owl;
Great auk; Dodo; Eastern wapiti; Badlands bighorn sheep.

One by one, like grade school friends,
They move away and fade out of memory:
Portuguese ibex; Blue buck; Auroch; Oregon bison;
Spanish imperial eagle; Japanese wolf; Hawksbill
Sea turtle; Cape lion; Heath hen; Raiatea thrush.

One by one, like children at a fire drill, they march outside,
And keep marching, though teachers cry, “Come back!”
Waved albatross; White-bearded spider monkey;
Pygmy chimpanzee; Australian night parrot;
Turquoise parakeet; Indian cheetah; Korean tiger;
Eastern harbor seal ; Ceylon elephant ; Great Indian rhinoceros.

One by one, like actors in a play that ran for years
And wowed the world, they link their hands and bow
Before the curtain falls.


(image: John James Audubon: Passenger Pigeon)



Rivka Jr. said...

Thank you for this beautiful elegy.

Jonathan K. Cohen said...

Earlier this month, the Vietnamese Javan Rhinoceros and the Western Black Rhinoceros packed their small, matching suitcases and wound up their affairs. Farewell, truculent but necessary creatures.

Rebel Girl said...

Thanks for reading.

Ah, the truculent rhinos and their suitcases.

Anonymous said...

Occasionally a poem grabs my heart and twists the tears down my cheek. Thank you, Charles Harper Webb.

Tom McCranie

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