Gordon Meade – The Passenger Pigeon

Meade LE P&W July 2023

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing July 2023

The Passenger Pigeon, poems by Gordon Meade.

The Passenger Pigeon

In the beginning, well before the advent
of the Vanishing, there were so many of us
that nobody ever thought that we, in our
multitudes, would ever become extinct.

And yet, we did. Revive and Restore,
an organisation not unlike the present
Resurrectionists, came up with the idea
of trying to alter the genome of the Band-

Tailed Pigeon so much that it would,
in all essential ways, be able to pass
itself off as one of us. Releasing us into
the wild in the mid-2030s, the team

at Revive and Restore, came too
late to realise that there were no
longer enough forests left in order to
support us. And so began another

mass extinction, brought about
in the same way as the one before
it had been; with sticks, with nets,
with poison, and with guns.

The White Rumped Vulture

You never really realised that we were going,
nor at such an alarming rate, until the charnel
grounds within Tibet, and the Towers of Silence
in Mumbai, remained filled to the brim with
the rotting carcasses of your friends and family.

It is a bad omen for a corpse to be unattended
to, by which I mean, in this case, uneaten. Our DNA
was everywhere but, unfortunately, contaminated by
the diclofenac which, almost single-handedly, had
led to our demise. And so began, the painstaking

process of our own resurrection. Once there were
enough of us deemed to be clean of the drug, we
became the victims of an intense captive breeding
programme, before, at last, we were released to
roam free above the mountain peaks once more

to fulfil our roles as undertakers by finishing off
the last remains of your nearest and dearest.

The North/South Divide

Our Northern White varieties are gone,
but not so long ago that our DNA can’t
still be harvested from our wrinkled skin.

But what to do with it then? Nobody
knows as to whether or not the North/
South divide can ever be healed. If we

and our Southern cousins are indeed
family, or not. I guess it is going to be
worth a try, otherwise, perhaps all

of us will, in time, be lost. The cost
is the manufacture of a hybrid; neither
full Northern, not completely Southern;

a makeshift creature whom, like
the planet it will come to reflect, will
neither be entirely saved, nor totally

destroyed; just something in between.

© Gordon Meade

Gordon Meade is a Scottish poet based in the East Neuk of Fife. In the past he has been the Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow at the University of Dundee. He has read from his work throughout the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, Ireland and Luxembourg. He is the author of twelve collections of poems, most recently, EX-Posed: Animal Elegies (Lantern Publishing and Media, 2022).

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