An Albatross


There’s an albatross on Midway Atoll.
She’s hatching her thirty-seventh
albatross babby. She’s not the Black-
footed or browed. Nor the Wandering,
despite flying eternally except to mate
and brood. And that Yellow-nosed,
recently escaped from the Doldrums,
is now sheltering in a Lincolnshire marsh.
And she’s not the gentle Shy or
the grimy Sooty. No, this is a Laysan,
known for its whinnying. At seventy,
she may be the planet’s oldest bird,
returning to the same, now mouse-
infested place, to birth her babbies.
And with the same mate—if she
hasn’t in the meantime outlived him.
These birds used to die of old age.
Now they ingest plastic or are attacked
by the mice. Fred West, serial killer
and sentimental, liked a bit of dialect
along with the killing and the rape.
Years on, he referred to his children,
even those he’d butchered, as babbies.

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