“Lord God Bird” you called me, as if I aroused awe,
as if the beauty of my black-and-white body, my red cockade
inspired in you a reverence.
I lived in an old-growth swamp forest.
There were 81,000 acres when you
set up your cameras to watch me.
Another group of you claimed ownership
of the forest and killed every last tree.
Though you are a uniform species,
behavior divides you into a separateness:
the watchers and the killers.
The watchers told the killers about me,
and that the end of the trees would be the end of all my kind.
But this we have observed in the killers:
once you set out to kill with abandon—
whether tree or bird or beetle—
you have destroyed your own life: the means of reverence.