25 Sightings of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker

Firewheel Editions | 2012

Winner of the Firewheel Chapbook Award

25 Sightings is inspired by those who watch and wait, and, finally, report sightings of a bird believed to be extinct for over half a century. The bird was magnificent-black with a white chevron stripe across the wing and an ivory bill. The bird fell victim to the Singer Sewing Machine. Singer clear-cut much of the southern forest, the home of the Ivory-billed, to meet the demand for sewing machine cabinets.

On one level 25 Sightings chronicles reports from those who have seen the bird that is “believed to be extinct” and posits that we have an overwhelming desire to keep the bird alive, if nothing else, in our collective imagination. On another level it tells the story of the writer’s family as it chronicles the old behaviors of a fading generation. It juxtaposes the vanishing of the woodpecker with the impending loss of the writer’s grandmother. This is a prose poem about extinction that suggests that we might find renewal in sightings and listings.

An Excerpt

“The last known refuge for the Ivory-billed was the Singer Tract. Of the 300,000 species of beetles, the Ivory-billed would eat only three. And of these three they would only eat the larva, and of course the larva stage only lasted three weeks…”

Read a longer excerpt.