The Great Auk 

By Jack Tamisiea

Unsympathetic boots thunder across a craggy isle, 

A tiny and uninspiring speck in a desolate stretch of the frigid North Atlantic,

Where the nights last forever. 

Two pairs of webbed feet clumsily stumble on the slick rock, 

Leaving their last hope behind. Salvation is just out of reach, over a cliff

And 77 meters down into a rough sea.

First doomed by its pillowy down and then by the desires of collectors and museums,

These birds carry the weight of an entire species on their unenlightened shoulders.

The scrape of the club and the steps of the boots rumble

As the birds’ waddle becomes frantic. 

Soon the swift swing of a club or the agonizing slow grip of a hand erase the Great Auk 

From nature forever.

The cold boots drag the bloody carcasses of extinction behind them.

Under a dark gray sky, the cataclysm is rendered complete with the destruction of the final egg of a species,

Stamped out by the errant step of a boot.



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