Sarah Lindsay


Elegy for the Quagga

Krakatau split with a blinding noise
and raised from gutted, steaming rock
a pulverized black sky, over water walls
that swiftly fell on Java and Sumatra.
Fifteen days before, in its cage in Amsterdam,
the last known member of Equus quagga,
the southernmost subspecies of zebra, died.
Most of the wild ones, not wild enough,
grazing near the Cape of Good Hope,
had been shot and skinned and roasted by white hunters.

Hollow Boom Soft Chime: The Thai Elephant Orchestra

A sound of far-off thunder from instruments
ten feet away: drums, a log,
a gong of salvage metal. Chimes
of little Issan bells, pipes in a row, sometimes
a querulous harmonica.
Inside the elephant orchestra’ s audience,
bubbles form, of shame and joy, and burst.
Did elephants look so sad and wise,
a tourist thinks, her camera cold in her pocket,
before we came to say they look sad and wise?
Did mastodons have merry, unwrinkled faces?
Hollow boom soft chime, stamp of a padded foot,

Makris Is Fallen

The dog came back,
grinning and smelling of carrion,
and her husband behind it, stride and gestures
too large for the house. His field voice, cracking,
declared a wider kingdom,
and the name of a fallen city,
not theirs this time.
From outside the roar and shrill
of celebration poured in.
He drew near in a rank cloud, breathing hard,
to show her the gash in his thumb.
So she washed in five waters and went to their bed,
but he slept without moving,
still in his cloak and dust.


Pass by the showy rose,
blabbing open,
suckling a shiny beetle;

pass by the changeless diamond
that falls asleep in shadow —

this love is a lichen,

alga and fungus made one fleck,
feeding on what it feeds,

growing slightly faster than stone
into a patch of gray lace,
a double thumbprint,

its bloom distinguishable, with practice,
from its dormant phase,

crocheting its singular habit
over time, a faithful stain
bound to its home,

etching on the unmoved rock
the only rune it knows.

The So-called Singer of Nab

They have left behind the established cave
with its well-worn floor. Scholarship impels them
in hundreds, but generally one by one,
to find an unknown passage or scrape out their own.
Proto-Semitic linguistic theory,
Hittite stratigraphic anomalies,
microclimatic economics. "What do you see?"
invisible followers ask in their ears,
and they whisper "Wonderful things" as they quarry
a grain of rock at a time, or examine
a fleck of ore, or measure
the acidity of a trickle of water.
See! Behold! Look! Lo!

Zucchini Shofar

No animals were harmed in the making of this joyful noise:
A thick, twisted stem from the garden
is the wedding couple's ceremonial ram's horn.
Its substance will not survive one thousand years,
nor will the garden, which is today their temple,
nor will their names, nor their union now announced
with ritual blasts upon the zucchini shofar.
Shall we measure blessings by their duration?
Through the narrow organic channel fuzzily come
the prescribed sustained notes, short notes, rests.