Thylacine

Written By: Shane Eaves

“And when you see a party of mounted men, chasing at speed along the plains, or driving, with zest and glee, into the recesses of the forests, headed by packs of howling dogs, you know that they are settlers, intent on ridding the countryside of this pest, the thylacine.”

The Port Pirie Recorder, Australia, November 17, 1909.

 

Formal Extinction: September 7th, 1936

 

Have you seen the picture

of the hunter, his gun

beside him on a crate, and his dead

thylacine strung up by its feet

like a Thanksgiving turkey?

 

Surely, you have seen the one

of “Benjamin,”—mouth open

yawning, like a stapler

pulled apart, ready to pin

missing ads to telephone poles—

or the grainy black and white

video of him in a cage,

pacing back and forth,

his slim striped body moving

in compact motions, like a cat

walking on a wall, a week before

he died in captivity.

 

At least you must have seen

the photo of the last thylacine

killed in the wild—Wilfred Batty

squatting beside, one hand

on the long neck of his rifle,

one keeping his dog

from tearing across the yard

in fear of the dead animal

lashed upright against the wood

porch. He was a homesteader,

and the half-tiger-half-wolf-marsupial

was in his chicken coop,

he said, killing the chickens.

If I could go back in time,

I’d ask Wilf how the weather

was that day—were the dogs barking

at a bulky, cloud heavy sky

or was the sun calm and warm

shimmering upon the steel roof

just before the extinction?

Shane Eaves received his M.F.A. in poetry from California State University Long Beach, where he served as the poetry editor for Riprap. He is a two time recipient of the William T. Shadden Memorial Award for his poetry. His poetry can be found in The American Mustard Collective, Riprap, Bird’s Thumb, Rust + Moth, and the upcoming issue of Miramar, as well as having been displayed at Soapbox and Fusion—two multi-media, cross genre art shows.