JCSM called nine members of the university community to respond objectively and subjectively to art from JCSM’s growing collection of natural history prints. The resulting exhibition is an orchestrated chorus of diverse voices responding to the art, science, and wonder of representing the natural world.
To expand the conversation, Ralph Brown Draughon Library’s Special Collections Department loaned materials from their collections; JCSM appreciates their kind collaboration. We also thank the Auburn University Museum of Natural History in the College of Science and Mathematics for loaning materials from their ornithology collection.
Admiring Audubon’s “Carolina Parakeets”
Green and red and yellow and yammering,
Carolina Parakeets once flashed in the forests.
Flocks so big they blocked out the sun.
Flocks so faithful, when one was hurt, hundreds
would fly back to hover with her.
Which made it fast work to shoot them all.
Which was done, for feathers for hats.
And by farmers whose fields their appetites
had fallen upon. Splitting every apple, every pear,
looking for a kind of seed that wasn’t there, yet eating
none. None is how many survive extinction.
There is one print Audubon made of them, paper
tinted tropical colors, in a museum I can go to.
And often I do, seeking brightness, seeking birdsong.
But the image is a warning call, is about waste.
There’s a dwindling woodland beyond the window
turned away from, by me in my admiring, by art
finding its ending. Our tending to head back to the dead.
Rose McLarney is Assistant Professor teaching creative writing in the Auburn University Department of English.