Extinction of Silence
|A. E. Stallings|
That it was shy when alive goes without saying.
We know it vanished at the sound of voices
Or footsteps. It took wing at the slightest noises,
Though it could be approached by someone praying.
We have no recordings of it, though of course
In the basement of the Museum, we have some stuffed
Moth-eaten specimens—the Lesser Ruffed
And Yellow Spotted—filed in narrow drawers.
But its song is lost. If it was related to
A species of Quiet, or of another feather,
No researcher can know. Not even whether
A breeding pair still nests deep in the bayou,
Where legend has it some once common bird
Decades ago was first not seen, not heard.
from Poetry (February 2006)