The Animals are Leaving

One by one, like guests at a late party   
They shake our hands and step into the dark:   
Arabian ostrich; Long-eared kit fox; Mysterious starling.

One by one, like sheep counted to close our eyes,   
They leap the fence and disappear into the woods:   
Atlas bear; Passenger pigeon; North Island laughing owl;   
Great auk; Dodo; Eastern wapiti; Badlands bighorn sheep.

One by one, like grade school friends,   
They move away and fade out of memory:   
Portuguese ibex; Blue buck; Auroch; Oregon bison;   
Spanish imperial eagle; Japanese wolf; Hawksbill   
Sea turtle; Cape lion; Heath hen; Raiatea thrush.

One by one, like children at a fire drill, they march outside,   
And keep marching, though teachers cry, “Come back!”   
Waved albatross; White-bearded spider monkey;   
Pygmy chimpanzee; Australian night parrot;   
Turquoise parakeet; Indian cheetah; Korean tiger;   
Eastern harbor seal ; Ceylon elephant ; Great Indian rhinoceros.

One by one, like actors in a play that ran for years   
And wowed the world, they link their hands and bow   
Before the curtain falls.

Poem copyright © 2006 by Charles Harper Webb. Reprinted from “Amplified Dog,” by Charles Harper Webb, published by Red Hen Press, 2006, by permission of the author and publisher.
Source: 2006
More Poems by Charles Harper Webb