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An Oral History of The Bramble Cay Melomys


“Significantly, this probably represents the first recorded mammalian extinction due to anthropogenic climate change.” Queensland government, Australia, 2019


We have been here, living quietly, simply

           going on, for thousands of moons.

                     As the story goes, we fled


the river Fly, found half-rotted carcasses

             of hull boats men use to pull

                     themselves through water.


We cast our lot with the tides and undertow,

             jumped on that hallowed wood,

                      sailed here. Here,


we make our homes under fallen trees, eat

              herbaceous greens, at times feast

                       on a turtle’s egg left unattended.


In Spring, deep purple flowers bloom on brambles,

            the air soft with scent, the promise of sweet

                        black berries ripe on the strawberry moon.


At night, we nuzzle our young to sleep,

            our lullaby, the sounds of sea

                       waves caressing the shore.


Now, year after year, our land shrivels, shrinks,

           an open hand closing.             No fruits.

                  No feast. Flowers wither away.


Enflamed, the ocean roars at night, bulldozes

            our shores with walls of water.

                      Each day, we die a little more.


I look around this rough reef of bones and stones-

              no paw prints remain, not even a pellet

                        to mark our place on this planet.


Erub Island artists call us Maizub Kaur Mukies, craft statues of us

              made from ocean debris, bright yellow fishing nets, red

                        ropes, thin black wires. Ghost Rats they whisper.


Lost now–our world found only

            in terse lines

                          in official reports.

A recent Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, Marceline White's writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Press 53, Feral: A Journal of Poetry & Art, Harpy Hybrid, Scrawl Place, The Orchard Review, The Indianapolis Review, Atticus Review, Snapdragon, Little Patuxent Review, Please See Me, Quaranzine, Gingerbread House, The Free State Review, and The Loch Raven Review and others; anthologies include Ancient Party: Collaborations in Baltimore, 2000-2010, and Life in Me Like Grass on Fire. An award-winning economic rights advocate, Marceline is the author of chapters in two books on gender and globalization, numerous research reports, and op-eds. When not writing or engaged in activism, she can be found learning how to better serve her two cats, posting too many pictures of her garden on social media, and reminding her son to text her when he arrives at the party.

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