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The Saturday Poem: Similes of the Mallorcan Midwife Toad


by Glyn Maxwell

Like the Coelacanth and the Rock Rat of Laos
And the Nightcap Oak and the Mountain Pygmy Possum
We are lazarus taxon.
We are back who were never gone.
We were here and you never knew.
We thought you'd died out too.

Like the Lumpsucker Fish and the Giant Water Bug
And the Seahorse and the Three-Spined Stickleback
We have such helpful males
You make astounding tales
Of what's natural to our kind.
But among us kind means kind.

Like the Bermuda Petrel and the Formosan
Rock Macaque and the Rhinos of Java
We are endemic. So
We've nowhere else to go.
But the look in your eyes reveals
You know how that shit feels.

Like the Toadfish and the Black-capped Chickadee,
The Beluga Whale and the Mexican Free-tailed Bat,
The Pacific Chorus Frog and the Nightingale,
The Malabar Whistling Thrush and the Antelope Squirrel
We sing. We don't know how
But hey. We are singing now.
We sing for the world is new.
Like you, we imagine, do.

Glyn Maxwell, shortlisted for the 2013 Forward prize, will read at the ZSL Writers Talks on Endangered Animals, chaired by Ruth Padel, on 12 November at London Zoo, London N1. www.zsl.org/writerstalks

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