Dodo by Martin J. Elster

Dodo
(Raphus cucullatus)

Maybe you chuckle at the sound
of my name or weep at hearing a word
that calls to mind the song of a bird
so round, I couldn’t leave the ground.
Yet I matched my patch like comfy clothing.
You came ashore one day and, loathing
my curious countenance, bludgeoned, bashed
and smashed my clan. Our numbers crashed.
(Had the once-lush forests of Mauritius
ever seen a beast so vicious?)
We roosted in the woods, ate fruits,
and shrank from none, not even the boots
striding toward us. We were no beauts—
in your eyes—though our feathered suits
were snazzy as a CEO’s.
Unlike most other birds, the nose
inside our epic bill was keen,
helping us locate our cuisine,
helping us find the bulbs and roots,
seeds, nuts and crabs and other shellfish
we relished. The dodo tree, unselfish,
nourished parrot, bat, and tortoise,
the gifts it gave so darned delightful
we licked our beaks at every bite-full.
Paradise! Yet you abhorred us—
our face, our grace, our trendy style.
Now you hear our name and smile.
I wish, instead, you’d just ignored us.

by Martin J. Elster

Editor’s Note: This poem’s inventive rhyme is perfectly suited to its subject, with neither too much levity, nor too little.