Severence Package

seeing neither the logic nor order inherent in nature, he has
selfishly appropriated it to his own ends and destroyed it.


Others likely went missing in the one loss
: inchworms, perhaps, or ticks, beetles with glabrous
backs, a certain kind of burrowing rat, a type of moss,
a tint of blood, feather’s sheen or bitter taste;

none accounted for, of course, only the large
absences were stuffed, grieved or sketched
—some in decaying texts, their backdrops hued & rigged
to look elysian, not a once-paradise, plundered for wretched

appetites. Take the Calvaria tree, for instance, which
vanished not long after the Dodo, to little notice.
Its seeds were germinated, not by chance, but
in the Dodo’s gizzard, erupting like a poultice

on the earth from a bolus of digested fruit. With
the last Dodo shot, the tree became scarce, then
ceased to show its gnarled pate, bark and roots
on any of the fertile islands that the sailors had rampaged.

Gone the Dodo, famed bird, the Calvaria tree, its mate,
and how many others unnamed?

Questions and Answers

What inspired “Severence Package”?

“Severance Package” was inspired by my research into extinct and endangered species. I began to realize that when one species disappears, then other species that depend on it for survival also vanish.

What poetic techniques did you use in “Severence Package”?

I used an extended sonnet form with regular, but not predictable, end rhymes or half rhymes. The last couplet relies on internal assonance for its paired sounds. There is a lot of focus on sound texture in this piece, as in all my work, with alliteration and sibilance especially.

This poem “Severence Package” originally appeared in Canadian Literature 160 (Spring 1999): 27.

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