September 3rd, 2013 | Poems for adults
A pretty little possum with a black stripe down its back,
It darts throughout the forest tops through depths of darkest night.
It forages for sugars, grabbing insects for a snack,
Then slips back to its hollow with arrival of the light.
It was named ‘Leadbeater’s Possum’ for a past museum worker,
A famous taxidermist (little creatures he would stuff),
But the story of this possum is a genuine tear jerker.
Oh, life has not been easy for this precious ball of fluff.
It thrives, you see, on forests, but its habitat is narrow.
From Marysville to Baw Baw, thereabouts, denotes its range.
It’s Victoria’s state emblem so, in part, we push its barrow,
But we challenge without mercy its capacity for change.
For we chopped and hacked the forest lands that were its sole dominion.
We plundered and we butchered and we put it on the run.
We reached the point where scientists were of the broad opinion
It was done for. Then it re-emerged in 1961.
Though we scarcely did deserve it, we’d been granted a reprieve,
A chance to right a wrong, to mend the errors of our ways
But, alas, we mended nothing, so we’re forced once more to grieve,
And face the harsh reality that crime just never pays.
A crime? Am I mistaken? You can check the regulations
And the statutes in the law books on the dim and dusty shelves.
You will never find it mentioned, though you search through many nations.
It’s a crime against sweet Nature. It’s a crime against ourselves.
For it seems we’ve missed our moment. It would seem Leadbeater’s Possum
Is living now on borrowed time, it’s fate forever sealed.
We could have ceased all logging and allowed the beast to blossom,
But a vision such as this, alas, shall never be revealed.
Then let us throw the dice once more. The odds, it’s true, aren’t pretty.
Let us do at last what’s right, and put an end to crime.
The human soul needs more than just the bright lights of the city.
Let us let the forests stand, and leave the rest to time.
Who knows what magic beckons if we put aside our blunders,
If we down the screaming chainsaws and revert to Nature’s dance?
What panoply awaits us, what array of shining wonders?
Perhaps Leadbeater’s Possum, too, still has a fighting chance!
© Stephen Whiteside 26.07.11