Thylacine

How curious,

this marsupial misfit,

lost to us

before we knew what we had.

The ghost in convict stripes,

wrongly accused of woolly slaughter;

ripper of lambs and

culler of calves.

A possum in wolf’s clothing,

the slinking pouched prowler,

hyena-sloped and loping

with geriatric stiffness.

Back banded, ‘tiger’ branded

with black on tan

and a reputation to match.

Ill deserved, but too late

to be sorry, too late to save.

No more shocking

glimpses in gum-tree

scrubland, scrubbed free

of its native spark and

replaced with startling efficiency.

Vanished; but only just

remembered, leaving its mark

on an island’s arms, on beer bottles,

on fusty, dusty skins

and broken bones and

on the flickering footage of

the last of her kind,

gaping impossible angles and

pacing on Hobart concrete,

the final heartbeat of a species

snuffed out with her.

 

Richard Rintoul