Ed Luhrs


They named you Benjamin and kept you three years at the Hobart Zoo.
Larger circles of people now respected the dignity of your stay,
the Tasmanian government having granted your kin a fully protected status
only after the thousands of dead skins were sent to London.

How delighted the city folk must have been, to don a waistcoat so exotic,
so wrought with the spirit of colonial enterprise.
Because the markings were similar, doubtless many thought it was tiger skin.

Local farmers, eager to protect their livestock, held little interest 
in your evolutionary status, the largest carnivorous marsupial,
the only of its kind. One by one and with a bounty on each head,
every last one brought down, by arms, by domestic dogs gone feral
competing in the local food chain, by an insatiable ignorance 
cured far too late in the game - all leaving you quite alone, 
in a cage, with no family left on earth.

So that's the story, and there you are on YouTube, and I get to watch you 
over and over, thanks to the then-recent invention of the moving camera
and whoever had the good grace to do the filming.
Your yawn displays a vast expanse of teeth, a magnificent jaw,
and as you jump to action and pace the length of your incarceration,
you seem so listless and full of anticipation. Maybe you're thinking, 
"I can't wait till they let me go home."

That never happened. You were the very last, as far as we know,
and though the video remains, I'm sure all the fashion accessories
they made out of those carcasses rotted away a long time ago.

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