Bestiary for the End Times

Columbia Basin Pygmy Rabbit (Nimiipuu territory)
Part I. After nearly going extinct pygmy rabbits need room to grow
They scatter the bones of the underworld spirits        
and create the people
of the brush
and the rolling hills
the people of the warm springs
We live in an age of extinction driven
by facing these crises means making
compromises that save some species but
change hundreds of vertebrates have
blinked out in just the last when who
captured the last wild Columbia Basin pygmy
rabbits to start a captive breeding program
they hoped to keep the species and in a sense
they succeeded as scat in the sagebrush shows
In his death convulsions the monster
opened all the openings
of his body and the people
kicked the bones outside and went on out
but early on inbreeding produced sickly offspring
and low reproductive rates the scientists had
with a closely related population was a matter of
“genetic rescue” the new genes staved off
complete loss of the population about 25
percent of each rabbit comes from the wild
And he turned to the people and said
bring me some water
They brought him water and he washed
and with the bloody wash water he
made the human race. 
solid fences irrigation systems artificial burrows and
supplemental food provided the animals amenities
to survive the rabbits proliferated but disease did as
well and reproduction dropped ever lower
There were salmon, deer, elk, and all kinds
of birds, as if our bodies are the very end
of this earth still growing while our ancestors
are all buried in the ground. 
Fire doesn’t just scorch pygmy rabbit colonies it also
imperils the ecosystem repeated fires that propel and
are fueled by cheatgrass deliver destruction to native
species in sagebrush habitat pygmy rabbits are better
off today than they were but their future remains tenuous
one fire could wipe out the population and until they meet
new mates less vulnerable they’ll remain on the precipice
At present those spirits live
in the tops of the mountains watching
their children and waiting for
the great change to come.
Mourners who wail for their dead
hear spirit voices reply and know
their lost ones are near.
Part II. Snowshoe and Cottontail Rabbit
Once there lived Snowshoe Rabbit and Cottontail Rabbit, who were friends or brothers. Somehow, for some reason, at some time they went around this way and that way. Then Snowshoe Rabbit got stranded in the mountains because it began to snow and he couldn't get back. And that's how they spent the winter: Cottontail Rabbit in the valley and Snowshoe Rabbit in the mountains.
That spring they met again. Snowshoe Rabbit said, "Well, my friend, you have gone through the winter. When I looked out toward the valley, it would be dark over there, maybe raining, and I used to say to myself, "I wonder how my friend is passing his time." Cottontail Rabbit said, "That's the same thing I would do: look toward the mountain and watch. It was dark with storms and the rain poured down. I wondered how you were living."
Snowshoe told him, "You, my friend, were thinking the wrong thing. I have a good home, and I would throw good wood into the fire and burn it. I lay with my back toward the fire, until the fire crumbled to charcoal and made the house warm. And I would gather lots of food. That's how the living was – very pleasant up in the mountains. But I wondered about you."
Cottontail said, "Friend, you worried for nothing. As you might have seen from there, I had a good house where there are loose rocks. I would throw hackberry wood into the fire, and it would burn to charcoal. Then I would lie down with my back toward it and get warm. I lived well there."
Snowshoe said, "Yes, my friend, that's the way it will be with you. You, Cottontail, will live here in the lower country, and I will live in the mountains. We have learned that the best life for me is in the mountains, and on the other hand for you it is in the low country. From now on I will change my clothing. When it snows, I will put on the same color white so that nothing can see or find me. On the other hand, when spring comes I will put on new gray clothing so that nothing can find me easily. In this way I will live in the mountains, and in the same way you will spend time in the lowlands.
Snowshoe Rabbit has never come here since then. On the other hand, Cottontail Rabbit is right around here in the low country. That’s all.
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