Elegy to the Great Auk

Yuan Changming



Eldey Island. 3 July 1844. Two Iceland fishermen
Caught and killed two birds, while a third used
His boots to tread their half-hatched egg into pieces

That’s the inhuman end of a whole species used to be
Called Penguin. The feathered couple was much
More loyal to each other than any human marriage
Their kind had survived last ice age, flying gracefully

Everywhere, in particular along Newfoundland coasts
Helping sailors to escape from dangers, but now they
Are totally forgotten, except in this unrhymed line


Yuan Changming edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Yuan and hosts Happy Yangsheng in Vancouver; credits include ten Pushcart & three Best of the Net nominations,  Best of the Best Canadian Poetry, BestNewPoemsOnline, Threepenny Review and 1,399 others across 41 countries.