ginen the micronesian kingfisher [i sihek]

[our] nightmare : no
the jungle was riven emptied
of [i sihek] bright blue green turquoise red gold
feathers—everywhere : brown
tree snakes avian

the snakes entered
without words when [we] saw them it was too late—
they were at [our] doors sliding along
the passages of [i sihek]

the zookeepers came—
called it species survival plan—captured [i sihek] and transferred
the last
twenty-nine micronesian kingfishers
to zoos for captive breeding [1988]—they repeated [i sihek]
and repeated :

“if it weren’t for us
your birds           [i sihek]
would be gone

what does not change /

last wild seen—


You can learn more about the kingfisher and hear its call here.

This poem is reproduced from Craig Santos Perez, From Unincorporated Territory [guma’]. Copyright © 2014 by Craig Santos Perez.

Image courtesy of Eric F. Savage.

Dr. Craig Santos Perez is a native Chamoru (Chamorro) from the Pacific Island of Guåhan (Guam). He is a poet, scholar, editor, publisher, essayist, critic, book reviewer, artist, environmentalist, and political activist.