No Longer

We are living in an age of loss: the sixth mass extinction. Following last year's shocking report that the planet has lost half its wildlife in the past 40 years, and the 2018 Remembrance Day for Lost Species, we bring you 'The Vanishing'. In this new section, we seek responses not only to extinction – the deaths of entire species – but to the quieter extirpations, losses and disappearances that are steadily stripping our world of its complexity and beauty. How do we, as writers and artists, stay human during such times?

Today we bring you a poem by Eric Nicholson, with an image by Beatrice Forshall.

lives in Gateshead in the UK. He has followed the Soto Zen Buddhist path for over 30 years and hopes his practice informs his writing. He has published a number of poems and other writings in printed anthologies and online.

[Part 1 – Items from a zoological survey discovered in a derelict Unesco library]

Darwin’s Frogs no longer leap in the shrinking wetlands of Chile
the Formosan Clouded Leopard no longer hunts in the mountains of Taiwan
the Sri Lankan Spiny Eel no longer swims in the rivers of Sri Lanka
the Eskimo Curlew no longer calls over the snowy grasslands of Greenland
the Santa Cruz Pupfish is extinct     to be confirmed
the Western Black Rhinoceros no longer trundles across African plains
the Angel Shark no longer swims in the Black Sea    latest data 2023
the Crescent Nail-Tailed Wallaby no longer lopes across the Australian Outback
the Giant Golden-Crowned Flying Fox no longer gorges on figs in the forest of Panay
Pallas’s Cormorant no longer fishes in the polluted rivers or toxic lakes of Russia
the Labrador Duck is extinct    dead as a Dodo
the Javan Lapwing no longer flaps its wings in Indonesian skies
the Tahiti Sandpiper no longer plaintively pipes on the river banks of Tahiti
even our house sparrows    are in the shit

[Part 2 – Gleanings from Professor Avaritia’s papers found in her desiccated garden shed]

there’s a sapient product    of natural selection    who
no longer    harnesses wind-power or utilises solar energy
no longer    holidays in the Bahamas or Thailand
no longer    cultivates his own garden
no longer    considers the categorical imperative
no longer    gets the bullet train to work
no longer    measures the rise in average temperature
no longer    checks in at the inter-city-airport Terminal
no longer    rushes home to watch the World Cup
no longer    develops a military capability second to none
no longer    speculates as to whether she is a brain-in-a-vat
no longer    does the school run before nine o’clock
no longer    views the Holocaust exhibit of discarded shoes
no longer    speculates whether the table still exists if there is no one to see it
no longer    does the night shift on the maternity ward
no longer    prepares ingenious explosive devices
no longer    validates cogito ergo sum
no longer    orders ‘seed potatoes’ early from a first-rate suppliers in London
no longer    tackles the problem of social isolation among the elderly
no longer    checks in at the local gym or does press ups before breakfast
no longer    sets a moral compass in line with the Golden Rule
no longer    scans next year’s seed catalogue for new variety perennials
no longer    formulates any messages of reconciliation or peace
no longer    takes the dog for a walk in the park
no longer    asks if the ‘free-will defence’ is adequate to account for the problem of evil
no longer   speculates what it is like to be a bat
no longer    puts flowers on the family headstone

[Part 3 – Requiem]

no longer    reproduces
no longer    eats
no longer    drinks
no longer    sleeps
no longer    laughs
no longer    cries
no longer    questions
no longer    loves
no longer    hates
no longer    creates
no longer    dreams
no longer    breathes


Image:

Eskimo Curlew by Beatrice Forshall
107 x 76 cm
Hand-painted drypoint engraving
From its nesting ground in the High Arctic to the southern extremes of South America, the Eskimo Curlew would  make the long and perilous journey southwards, crossing the Atlantic between the East coast of North America and the North East coast of South America.  Having hunted the Passenger Pigeon to extinction, people then turned to the Eskimo Curlew. Due to the fact that large quantities of its population were shot and its prairie feeding grounds converted to arable, this bird is now extinct.

Beatrice Forshall‘s work has always drawn upon the natural world, and her printmaking revolves around species and themes central to conservation. She has worked with the International Union for Conservation of Nature; TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network; BirdLife International and Flora and Fauna International. She has spent the last year as artist in residence with the Cambridge Conservation Initiative. A percentage of the sales of Beatrice’s prints goes towards front-line conservation projects. You can see more of her work here.

Dark Mountain: Issue 14 TERRA

The Autumn 2018 issue is a collection of prose, photography and printwork about journeys, place and belonging

Read more
Comments
  1. A brilliant piece of writing though sombre in tone. I watch birds feeding in my small urban garden , including house sparrows, hedge accentors, goldfinches eating sunflower kernels and niger seeds, dunnocks rummaging in the undergrowth, wood pigeons picking up scraps, neighbours’ cats lurking in the bushes hoping for an extra meal. The pressures of overpopulation and materialism are damaging many parts of planet earth but large tracts of wilderness remain where the fittest may survive.

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