Elegy to the Great Auk – Yuan Changming

Eldey Island. 3 July 1844. Two Iceland fishermen
Caught and killed two birds, while a third used
His boots to tread their half-hatched egg into pieces

That’s the inhuman end of a whole species used to be
Called Penguin. The feathered couple was much
More loyal to each other than any human marriage
Their kind had survived last ice age, flying gracefully

Everywhere, in particular along Newfoundland coasts
Helping sailors to escape from dangers, but now they
Are totally forgotten, except in a little poem like this

Yuan Changming edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Yuan in Vancouver. Credits include Pushcart nominations, poetry awards as well as publications in Best of the Best Canadian Poetry (2008-17), & BestNewPoemsOnline, among others.

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