Self-Portrait as Baby Albatrosses

after watching Chris Jordan’s Albatross, part of the Midway Project

by Kimberly Brandolisio

We are here.
Inside this circle of black ink
on the abandoned map,
just under the second i in Pacific Ocean.
Even our remote island has become suburban:
tainted by coal dust, plastic waste, oil slick
spread of the city and haunted—

               the passenger pigeon
               the dodo
               the great auk
               the red rail
               the laughing owl

ad infinitum.
So many the sky is dark with ghosts instead
of industrial smoke and car exhaust
and albatrosses. Each tide brings in the next
plastic delivery, each wind wafts the smell of decay,
because they turned even our carcasses into neon signs,
advertising death in bottlecap red and fishing net
green and toothbrush yellow.
There is a museum of spent cigarette lighters
and golf balls in our soft bellies.
The beach sand is littered
with decomposing nests of feather and bone,
shotgun shell and candy wrapper
that stuff us with starvation and render
us unable to fly, floating
until death sweeps us in with the tide,
feathers water-darkened,
body bent so feet and beak and wings
all point towards the ocean.

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