Aves - Poem by Diane Hine
A polystyrene cradle, metal-clamped,
cupped a finely dimpled cream ostrich egg.
A cone of lamplight bathed latex-gloved hands,
conical glass flasks and a plain steel bench.
Two fluorescent tubes, one blinking, hung
overhead and sluiced cold light on mottled
petri dishes in trays. An olid onion
stink seeped from squat stoppered brown bottles.
The lab’s indistinct windowless walls
hazily appeared and faded in sync
with the faulty light. Puncturing the pall
two hundred glass eyes glared frozen ill-will.
A scientist gently drilled into the egg.
A hypodermic syringe rested on gauze;
quietly potent, a primed powder keg.
A hundred extinct birds poised in action, paused.
For forty days the incubator hummed.
Inside ostrich eggs, chromosomes dispatched
proteins which knitted claws and beaks that drummed
against confining slick shell cells. They hatched.
The scientist, teary-eyed and jubilant,
fussed over the chicks; the living young
of her stuffed aviary. Those birds vanquished
by Man’s misadventures, returned as One.
Genyornis gumption, the Dodo’s sweet face,
Teratorn wingspan, Elephant Bird frame,
Laughing Owl wit, Great Auk grit, Moa grace
and Haast Eagle claws like scimitar rakes.
The Demon Duck of Doom’s salvaged genes
shaped their beaks. (This waterfowl’s time was up
before humans wreaked havoc, but ideals
are flexible if ‘A Cause’ is fair and just) .
Growth hormone boosted, they shot up fast, spread
their wings, chirruped “Mother…Mother…Mother…”
Their voices ground like gravel ball bearings.
She made them pledge to always love each other.
Raised as vegetarians, they spurned
animal flesh. She told them of the plight
of birds bred for human consumption. They burned
with ire, inspired to fight for avian rights.
She read them ‘Frankenstein’. They wept and nodded.
She taught them paleontology. They passed!
Ethics, Law…. The chicks were quizzed and prodded.
They watched ‘Swan Lake’ on DVD and danced.
They learned to fly. The scientist cried. The day
had come to chirp “Goodbye…Goodbye…Goodbye…”
til only the last to hatch and fledge stayed,
nestled by her side (yet several metres high) .
Her supper was two soft boiled eggs with buttered bread.
She tapped the top of her egg with her spoon.
The chick tenderly tapped the top of her head
with its beak. “Oh I love you too, ” she crooned.
“Now, fly along (heh heh) , best get quacking.”
The chick nodded blissfully…knock…knock…knock…
Two hundred vacant glass eyes watched it thwacking.
“Get cracking? Yes, I will Mother, ” sang the Roc.
Unsheathe bills and
Rapier point quills.
Rise, Empire of the Rocs.
Egg-eaters will spill;
Cracked and scooped by
The sharp spoons
Poet's Notes about The Poem
Resurrector is an acrostic poem – 11 lines.
Syllable sequence is 1,2,3,4,5,6,5,4,3,2,1
Lines 1,2,10 and 11 are repeated in line 6
(Return Hexatina Refrain)
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