‘In Memory of an Island Species’ By Michael J. Leach

Featured image by Peter McKiernan. Photo (above) by David Stanley.


She had a given name
—Gump—
& a secluded home—
Christmas Island.
She was the last known
member of her species:
an individual

known to scientists & keepers
as both a friend & an endling.

She received close
attention & affection from humans 
after losing her reptilian kin.
She was a lone

Christmas Island Forest Skink
(Emoia 
               nativitatis).

It was January 2014
when scientists put her on a list
of Australian threatened species,
classifying her kind as critically
endangered.

Humans combed the rainforests
coating Christmas Island’s
135 km2
area

in search of a candidate mate
who was nowhere to be found.

Gump was found 
lifeless
on the eve of winter
2014, mere months 
after her kind was belatedly

listed as critically endangered
that past summer.

She left us a legacy
& a lasting
lesson.

 

Michael J. Leach (@m_jleach) is a biostatistician, epidemiologist, and poet based in Bendigo, Victoria, Australia. Michael’s poems reside in Plumwood Mountain, Cordite Poetry Review, Rabbit, Meniscus, the Medical Journal of Australia, Medical Humanities, Consilience, GRAVITON, Pangyrus, the Antarctic Poetry Exhibition, and elsewhere. Michael’s debut poetry collection is the chapbook Chronicity (Melbourne Poets Union, 2020).


You can read more about the Christmas Island Forest Skink in The Conversation.

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