Who knew that words were in flight,
that there are linguists like birders
counting their disappearing numbers,
that malagrug and brannigan and brabble
would vanish like the passenger pigeon,
the Lyall’s wren, the Dodo, the Great Auk?
Or more disturbingly like the friends
that once populated my neck of the woods—
the Nancys, the Dianes, the Lucilles,
the feckless Fanny, the doxy Dolly…
Why was my heart always a flutter-burst
for the illecebrous Ann?
Call me a gudgeon. I never believed
that names that once delighted my tongue
would go the way of snow broth—
vanishing like the Bonin grosbeak,
the Mauke starling, the Guadaulupe caracara,
like the vouropatra, the aepyornis,
the mulleronis. My youth is like Madagascar,
an island with more and more losses.
No extinction of a species could haunt me more
than at night when I drift off into wittendream,
thinking of you, Ann. It’s heartbreaking
to think we could have lived our lives together
like a couple of wrens sharing the same perch.
Recalling you, forty years later, I can conjure
up your voice as I drift off to sleep
as clearly as I can the song of the disappearing
nightingale or the rose-breasted grosbeak,
your memory a wondrous twitter-light.
by Bob Bradshaw
Editor’s Note: This poem is a word lover’s delight, filled with birds and multi-syllabic sonics and joy.