God of Extinctions

By D Donna

The god of extinctions reclines
in their study, into the synthetic
office chair webbing. They fidget, glimpse
their own face in the window. Yes, yes,
memento mori. They tug at their hair
and shed a thin, split-ended strand — insect, then,
maybe a moth. They tie a careful knot,
no loose ends left. It joins the rest
in the drawer. Tricky business, reckoning
the significance of species.

They learned that lesson early,
overdressed and curious
at the scenes of lesser murders:
a lichen, last of its lineage, grey-green
amid green-grey neighbors.
They gave the fatal reindeer (still chewing,
with no more than ordinary gravitas)
a pat on its haunch before it wandered off.
They crouched to look at the other lichens,
already blurring. Heard distant voices speak
a dying language.

No sure way to tell what matters,
but humans mourn at least
some things, at least sometimes.
The god of extinctions
lets their head drop to one shoulder,
twists the chair back and forth on its casters,
blinking past the portraits: dodo, mammoth,
dodo, mammoth. Not much of a job.

These days they'll appear if there's drama,
in a cloak the color of molt
in dawn light, in the faint hope
that a new world emerges
through the exit wound. Make a show
of bending at the waist, scraping
grass or sand or lava flow
with the ceremonial winnowing fan.
Hold it aloft for a radioactive moment: Look.
Look again. What you still hold is the harvest.


D Donna's poems have appeared in Rust + Moth, The Rupture, Lily Poetry Review, and elsewhere. They live in eastern Massachusetts.

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