Extinguished Voices

413 total words    

2 minutes of reading

Brown Pelican
Pelecánus occidentális

                                                                        ‘A brown pelican was the first casualty,’
Christina Zdanowicz
  Oct 4 2021, CNN

I’ve never seen the ocean gray
—no, not gray— black
with a sheen that reflects
my flight, it blinds me
to the fish I know might be still
be low in its gruesome presence
the fish,
do they also swim in blindness?
I’m not alone in this hunger
we fly and fly in circles
the smell of salt is gone
the air tastes like metal boats
the boats,
I saw them flock
around this void
float in my Oceanhome
now it is a stranger to me
I coast low
to see
my feathers stick
with a coat
of this odd

Downy Woodpecker and Naked Tree
Dendrócopos pubécens

My leaves have fallen for the last time
while the world awaits to eavesdrop
and learn a way out of these fires
why do they run in circles
to get nowhere fast?
Look! at these unburdened shelf
mushrooms already fat on my bark
and these centipedes that just crawled
last night —at last, a night so clear
that a spider danced on a beam
Sit! place your kindly ear on my lap
Listen! to the echoes left by my Downy
she kept brood after brood in my cavity
now I’ll keep her chard faint bones
Oh! how pine for her beak

further down




that is the world under this one
Gaze! at this mycelium that gathers
information, unequivocal simple messages
speak of leadership of safety of plenty
Examine! all there is to know
find this path before too long

Ivory-billed Woodpecker
Campephilus principalis

could have been different
if I had the courage to raise
more chicks?

maybe gone north ?
or further west?
they didn’t know me

as a dweller of sun
I wasn’t a melancholic bird—

could I still taste a longhorn
larvae, delight in my gracious

we thought the trees
—those stately gods
would stay forever

there was a time,
that defies our memory,
we could fly for miles

without the sight of soil
that wonderful cover
of roots and joy

miles without gray lines
and the rush of metal
and exhaust

but the trees!
our trees
my trees,

they were so big and strong
If I preen my head against a bald cypress
bark, I think I can still hear pounding

our bills null the sounds of human drums
silenced by chainsaws
quieted all

our homes fell one
by one
leaving only roots like human fingers

attacking the air
or maybe imploring

yes, I should have kept moving north
or maybe west
had more chicks

but food was scarce
with God-tree’s leave
now, I’m the last

without a mate
my feathers
I lay to rest

Image located on Stories & Ideas homepage: “Ivory-billed Woodpecker (Picus Principalis)” by Toronto Public Library Special Collections is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

  • Amelia Díaz Ettinger

    Amelia Díaz Ettinger is a ‘Mexi-Rican,’ born in México but raised in Puerto Rico. She is a BIPOC poet and writer and has two full-length poetry books published: Learning to Love a Western Sky by Airlie Press, and a bilingual poetry book, Speaking at a Time /Hablando a la Vez by Redbat Press. She has also published the chapbook Fossils in a Red Flag by Finishing Line Press. Her poetry and short stories have appeared in literary journals and anthologies.
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