Passenger Pigeon

(Ectopistes migratorius)

We ate beechnuts and chestnuts and acorns and seeds and ripe berries,
worms and insects—unlimited stores!—till our smart adversaries 
(you people) rolled in. Every forest you felled for your lumber
impelled us to seek out new forests for berries and slumber,

to nest and to couple, lay eggs and to fledge. Without number,
we tore through the sky like a tempest. No force could encumber
that billow of birds. Women, children and geezers, on hearing
the approach of a jillion jangles, took cover. While peering

from your windows till dusk, when the last of the flight passed from sight,
you were blind to our plight: No more trees? Then we’d have to alight
on your farmlands. You started to shoot and to poison and trap us
and everything else you could think of in order to zap us.

Immune to the wolf and the weasel, the fox and the hawk, 
we succumbed to your bullets as readily as the great awk.
You polished off hundreds and thousands and millions with ease!  
Your bellies sang paeans when filled with such delicacies.
 
Murdering was, in a way, not unlike a religion.
Full of fervor, you deftly and cleverly whacked every pigeon
whizzing past, or ignited our nests. We’d be always in stock
you believed, till you noticed, alarmed, that each infinite flock

began dwindling and suddenly “infinite” turned into “nada.”
No bird-cloud now darkens your day or trills out a sonata
or cascades into canyons like meteors made of bright plumes.
Sonic booms now resound above billows of thick, silent fumes.


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