Ivory-Bill


      Two ivory-billed woodpeckers, rarest birds in North America, were seen March 3, 1950 in Florida by members of an expedition headed by Whitney H. Eastman. . . .
      The exact location of the ivory-bills is being guarded, and it is hoped that the difficulty of access to their habitat will help to protect them. Prior to the discovery, no ivory-billed had been authentically reported since 1947, and it was feared that it had become extinct. --Audubon Magazine


This is a literal lease on life,
though a further thing perplexes
your inquisitive friends: are you husband and wife?
Our informant neglected your sexes.

We hope you may have progeny yet,
though we don't expect you'll regain
your former abundance. We don't forget
Rusty, the whooping crane.

But, even knowing there's little chance
that you'll hold your own, the mourner
is glad to postpone the circumstance
as you brighten your final corner.

Hang on to the end! You still may thrive.
The fates of us all are linked.
We're crowding you out, but you may survive
when we've rendered ourselves extinct.


William Matchett, Airplants: Selected Poems, Antrim House, 2013.