Elegy for the Bramble Cay Melomys

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A simple song.

The last particular or two,
maybe in 2010
in monsoon storms
(that blow harder, longer)
or astronomical tides,
gone.

Once on Maizub Kaur
low in the Torres Strait
melomys scampered, bred,
prominent in herd-fields,
strandline burrows
out of the sun.

Europeans
mapped it Bramble after HMS,
cargo boys
took to with sticks
and roasting pans,
Mackerel fishers set
their Jack Russells
for the exercise:
always took a few.

A rodent empire
for a thousand years
(20 times that in rat years)
dining on purslane
and gull wings.
But time is as quick
as a whisker’s twitch.

Recent storms
have reshaped the cay,
the lagoon shifted,
beach-cast timbers,
ghost crabs on beach wrack,
plants in grey profusion.
The Green Turtles still
clamber at full moons
late in the year.

A simple song
and all it signifies.


Image: detail, c/- Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection. You can read more about the Bramble Cay Melomys here and here and here. The Bramble Cay Melomys is probably the first recorded mammalian extinction due to anthropogenic climate change.

3 thoughts on “Elegy for the Bramble Cay Melomys

  1. Extinction songs must always be “simple” as what remains is like a memory of the dead, only fainter and shallow because we hardly paid attention. The habitat of this mammal sister is unknown, maybe even unknowable, to the human maraud: but there is a glimmer of enormity in “dining on purslane / and gull wings” by the sea.

    Liked by 1 person

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