Hope Coulter

Pulling at weeds, raking the soil with its toes,
and tamping the ground with strong feet,
the lyrebird clears its stage.  Bows.
Hoists its tail, patterned in woven colors—
mahogany, sepia, sable, cream—
a tail like some ancient viol,

a symmetrical curlicue, raised in salute—
and begins.  Song pours from its throat
as the bird steps and turns.  Unseen behind ferns
and bromeliads in the green gloom,
other creatures attend,
hearing their own songs broadcast back

to them brighter, amplified—
every sound that has stirred these leaves:
golden whistler, honey-eater, bellbird,
and the click of a camera shutter, again and again,
dry trill of a camera with manual feed.
The bird’s eyes dart from side to side.

From its larynx emerges
the thrush’s silvery aria, the hoot of the boobook owl.
Then snarls ascending.  Whining slices
of vacancy.  Chain saws.  The lyrebird
plays back the end of the forest, tree by tree—
the advance of its own destruction.

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