Sigrun Susan Lane
Extinction of the Great Auk, 1844

The Auks came ashore in May to breed and lay
their one large egg on barren rock, no nest.
Remote, the rocks were swept by Arctic spray,
bird colonies gathered there to mate and rest.
Months at large in roaring sea,
birds at home in the northern depths,
they found their way to Iceland’s Eldey,
two Great Auk, their final egg.
Two fishermen rowed out to kill them for their fat,
their meat. Their egg—a misstep—crushed.
The men grabbed the Auks, snapped their necks.
They bled the birds, cut them up and rushed
to sell the meat, piece by piece, the bodies on a stick.
Sold the skin, feathers and all, on the road to Reykjavik.