Saturday, December 1, 2007

A Hellish Thing

Last week, the Audubon released a study called "Watchlist 2007" placing 178 species of North American birds on the list of those in peril of extinction.

While the Watchlist only reports peril causes for some on the list, a New York Times editorial this morning reads:

According to this report, called WatchList 2007, nearly a quarter of the 700 bird species in America are threatened, usually by direct human economic activity, like development and gas and oil production.

In a related article in the Times, Anthony DePalma reported:

“We’re concerned that there’s been almost a moratorium on the listing of endangered birds over the last seven years under this administration,” Greg Butcher, Audubon’s bird conservation director and a co-author of the new study, said in a telephone interview. Placing a threatened bird on the new watch list can bring it the kind of attention it needs to survive even if the federal government does not act, he said. “When we pay attention to these birds and do the things we know need to be done, these birds recover,” Mr. Butcher said. “All these birds have a chance to rebound if we put the right actions in motion.”

So something can still be done, and our current administration may have put a block on public notification. Our administration who has some vested interest in the oil industry, I believe...

The list includes several species of Albatross.

The Albatross was the bird that symbolized Christ and Hope and the coming land in Coleridge's "Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner."

And I had done a hellish thing,
And it would work 'em woe:
For all averred, I had killed the bird
That made the breeze to blow.
Ah wretch! said they, the bird to slay,
That made the breeze to blow!

The Mariner is then forced to wear the dead albatross as penance around his neck. Lots of death and destruction ensue, with a bit of redemption thrown in at the end.

This is the same poem that utters the often repeated words, "water water everywhere and not a drop to drink."

It seems almost entirely a prophetic poem this bright blue morning, the first of a warm December. As if Coleridge were warning us of the game being played for our death and our life in death as the result of our actions.

In college when I was reading this poem critically for Ms Pat Skarda, I killed a fish. I had just put my dog to sleep and thought that maybe a fish would be some kind of less responsibility requiring company. But the new pet was acting strange, and, still traumatized from the loss of the dog, I flushed the fish down the toilet. I asked my roommate to make me a necklace with a black fish sculpted out of modeling clay to wear in penance. I wanted to feel the weight of my guilt around my neck.

Sometimes it's not a bad thing to live with that responsibility for a while.

And through that action what we remember to regard what surrounds us as beautiful life, just as the Mariner saw with fresh eyes the dolphins and the whales surrounding his ship by the end of his journey.

No comments: