“The Red List: A Poem”
by Stephen Cushman
Endangerment’s foreplay en route to extinction
often but not always. Ask the bald eagle,
ridiculous nickname for that elegant hood
rhymed with its tail, a matched set distinctive
against distant spruce, white as the transit
of pre-dawn Jupiter’s super-heated drop
soldering sky plates to cement a meridian;
ask the white hoods about last-minute comebacks,
all but erased by really fine pesticide
but now off the red list and suddenly nemesis
to the gull population, herring or black-backed,
whose chicks make good snacks during long days of fishing.
Eagles increase, local gulls dwindle, till one day, who knows,
Seeing an eagle skim low overhead, no bigger deal
than seeing a crow, so what, who cares, the national bird,
as in permit me to flip you the.
From The Red List: A Poem by Stephen Cushman, Louisiana State University Press, lsupress.org. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.