The Last Tasmanian Tiger
wolf, dog-faced opossum, hyena tiger, zebra wolf…
You can still see her for sixty-two seconds
on grainy silent film, pacing the cage
where she would die of exposure and neglect
in downtown Hobart, September 7, 1936.
What survives: some gruesome taxidermy,
rock paintings by the aborigines,
fossils, bounty posters, skulls, thousands
of striped pelts, photographs of gaping jaws,
learned jargon (“extinction vortices”),
tall tales—of viciousness and docility,
of recent sightings, of resurrection
from their DNA—our easy, unearned grief,
the lie that we are not what we have been,
that what we’ve done we will not do again.