The First of the Last

It was a tiny rat
On a tiny island
Wave-washed one too many times.

Only the experts knew
It was in danger,
But it wasn’t the kind of cute
That wins the grants.
So by the time they went to save it
There were none left to save.

One researcher gave this eulogy:
It suffered from living a long way away
From anywhere else,
And being a rat
And being not particularly attractive.

Now, in death, it makes headlines—
Climate change officially claims its first mammal:
The Bramble Cay melomys is declared extinct.

Oh, stitch its likeness on a banner
In loving detail.
Raise it as the new flag
Of a new community
Where no life is too small, too far, too ugly
To save.
And nothing takes priority
Over ensuring life.

The headlines are a prophecy—
They doom it the first of the last.
Let us reverse—
Make it instead
The last of the first.

Image State of Queensland / CC BY 3.0 AU

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