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June 10, 1997

The Great Blue Turaco

by Daniel Gutierrez

The last beluga whale will be plexiglassed
for its farewell tour, cross-country in a tank
sponsored by Long John Silver's restaurants.
Groups of schoolchildren will weep
at her whiteness, drown
in her cyclops tears and
flood the White House
with crayoned petitions for mitosis miracles.
The President seizes the moment,
proclaims it "National Love Casper Day"
and paints future seas full of beluga
smiles cloned from Casper's preserved DNA.
The children wade back to deep dreams,
sucked in by the spreading rage
of stuffed beluga dolls,
cinderblock life rafts.

It comes to me in a story
from a handed-down Tribune, fluttering
me like a luna moth receiving pulsar music on antennae.
On the day she succombs to her toxic fate,
I rise in a powerless hut,
charmed by the sun as it shimmies up morning's tree,
and barefoot the forest on a detritus path of petals.
Magnified eyes in a stand of Jacaranda trees in hope
of glimpsing the blue crest of the great blue turaco,
the glossy black of its underwing,
the yellow and scarlet of its bill,
accustom themselves to the mirrorball canopy-light.
A great blue turaco flies into my field of vision,
and I colorfast each pigment to my memory.
I know that they live more than in the mind only
of Kodak Color Engineers,
reproduced from faded feathers and skeletons.

Even Exxon executives wore white ribbons for a day.

(Daniel Gutierrez received 3rd Place Prize in The Harbinger's White Rabbit Contest)

The Harbinger, Mobile, AL