Poems by Barbara Baldwin

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The Last Tasmanian Tiger: London Zoo 1936

by Barbara Baldwin

From Canary Spring 2013

Barbara lives near the Spokane Aquifer and works at re-homing abandoned cats and dogs while feeding sparrows and assorted Corvids throughout the year.

That lone beauty, snuffling through
wire, was captured on film, pacing, pacing.
When the photographer clicked
his cold-eyed shutter closed,
this rare marsupial lion
was a living "museum piece."
The Aboriginals called them: "coorinna,"or "laoonana."
Then, the Aboriginals were gone.

The thylacine, waited
by the fence, wanting
meat, seeking not dirt, wooden slats
or dead leaves, but grass green quiet.
Men with books and glasses,
logged details: the rear-opening
pouch, the thirteen stripes, the wide
"snake-like gape," a simple yawn,
followed by a distinctive "cough-like bark."

There had been three animals
in the Hobart zoo.
One keeper used a worn broom
to wave the fearsome trio
into the man-made den.
He knew nothing about these beasts.
They were simply kept ...
until only the male survived.

The isolate, dog-like,
was like no other, living on scraps,
penned up in a "half-house."
He amazed one man as he:"...sprang from the floor
to the top of the wall, from crossbeam
to crossbeam, like a cat."
The survivor was a fable soon forgotten.
His passing was a palm-sized
rectangle, buried in the news.

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