Not impossible, but unlikely,

to find again in Southern hardwoods

the blue-black feathers, glistening

wings gliding in slow, sure leisure,

sturdy ivory bills double-knocking

on trunks, or hear the odd kent-kent

as the birds swoop from trunk to trunk.

Not impossible but unlikely:

too late, perhaps, for hope.


At dinner a man describes the final

clearcut of old-growth that doomed

these birds. One survivor, he says,

a female, lived on among the stumps

for two years. Some days when he scouts

the woods, listening, waiting,

he thinks he hears the ancient nasal call,

imagines the loose sail of wings,

the glowing beak, and red flashing crest.

If only the fist of his belief might open

wide to a miracle of resurrection.


The problem with belief, I say,

is the hard plank of facts: the occasion

of reality forcing us to weigh human guilt,

the greed that preens in our wants.


In time he circles back to hope—maybe,

he says, the great and beautiful bird might,

somehow, rise from its ashes of extinction.