20 April 2012

A.E. Stallings -- Extinction of Silence

In honor of GLSEN (The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network) and today's "Day of Silence" to draw attention to the anti-LGBTQ name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools, a poem by the immensely talented translator and formalist poet A. E. Stallings.

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)

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