Not red, not Mexican, not lowland.
No bonnet, no white-tailed, bighorn.
Forget black foot, leave the beach
the brow-antlered, San Joaquin, San
Miguel, no woodland, no salt marsh.
It did not fly, no shimmer, no flint
of wing in early morning.
No burial, no checkerspot, no call
home to its mother, grizzly—
never that. No spot, no hawksbill.
It did not warble, though it was said
to warble, red-bellied, cockaded.
It was not of the river, not yellow-
faced. No American burying,
great white, beautiful, slender, short-
nosed, sucker. It had no June,
no shiner—especially no shiner.
You have to understand, it was rumored
to have cave mold, tidewater.
Definitely it was not monarch
with its New-Mexican ridge-nosed
skink. No, it came with a razor,
a cutthroat, there was nothing small-
toothed about it. It leatherbacked
carrying slackwater down the Devil
River. We are certain it had monster
in its eastern, band-winged, fritillary.
There was no ivory-bill to speak of—
no metalmark, no Texas blind
like you would expect from a humpback,
a whooping, island, rice, darter loyal
as a flattened musk, but twice as deadly.
Danielle Mitchell is the author of Makes the Daughter-in-Law Cry, winner of the 2015 Clockwise Chapbook Prize. Her work has appeared in Vinyl, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Eleven Eleven, Animal, Nailed Magazine and others.