Preservation


Watching a bagpiper gather his gawky bundle of sticks

and bladders against his body like something run over—

its organs and bones hanging out—and give it mouth-to-mouth,

then hearing it bleat to life like a baby dinosaur

born with a wonky septum, I want to take them both home

in a shoe box and feed them from an eyedropper.  Once,

in an animal park, I saw a birdcage

labeled so as to inform me

that the ounce of jitter it contained

was the last dusky seaside sparrow on earth,

and they were damn well going to keep it alive

until it exploded into dust.  Of the 6,900-odd

human languages, 20 are currently spoken

by only one person.  I feel responsible.

I want to give them their ancestors back

the way zoologists tried resurrecting the quagga

by breeding back from zebras,

the way musicians abjure underwear

while training their giant Jurassic spiders

to wheeze “Amazing Grace” on command,

and now that I think of it marching bands

should play “Louie, Louie” on Renaissance sackbuts,

racketts and shawms, and every house should bear a plaque

that lists every person who ever slept there.

Every name should be carved in granite somewhere.



Originally appeared in Fault Lines #1

Preservation    Song for Your Freckles    Remains    Private