Leveler Poetry Journal
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Nothonotus wapiti


There are folks who would die

if moved to a nearby city. Absurdly,

they know when other members of

their species leave after high school, thrive,

not to try a similar relocation themselves.

For awhile, they are pushed and

prompted, as if it were a matter

of courage. Then the questions are dropped.

They buy ten country acres

where buzzards circle a  Victorian

built in the 1800s on a foundation of

locusts logs, plow a garden, stack

a cord of wood out back, mate.

Still, they find it hard to grasp

how a darter can specialize its number

of diagonal scales to fit the southern bend

of Richland Creek at County Road 4209

so well, that to adapt to any other habitat

would be to become something else.

The wavy copper-colored lines

of its cheeks such a match to the fast-flowing

Giles County freshwater, ichthyologists

recognize it as a new species—by chance

just before extinction. Their distinguishing

yellow-spotted fins waving like flags

from a porch, or hands.

Amy Wright