Faced with Extinction

by Susanna Lang

the dinosaurs made themselves
small, gaudy with feathers,
lighter than air. Compass needles
enthralled by the earth.

Case in point: this starling,
the iridescence at its neck,
its command of language.

Cocks its head, unafraid.
It should be more wary: my kind
have gone the other way.

I had to bend over to kiss
my grandmother, who
made herself small
to escape the pogroms.
But I grew tall, put on weight.

In the 18th century, men
wore lace at the throat
like this starling. Now
a young man in my class
boasts of his new sweatshirt—
white, nondescript
except for the logo.
No more gaud.

Our planes tumble out of the sky.
Our devices have lost our way.
Our capacious brains
have rooms for rent.

No need for asteroids.
We are picking apart
our own nest.



Susanna Lang’s third collection of poems, Travel Notes from the River Styx, was released in 2017 from Terrapin Books. Her chapbook, Self-Portraits, is forthcoming from Blue Lyra Press in June 2020. A two-time Hambidge fellow, Susanna’s poems and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in publications such as Prairie Schooner, december, New Poetry in Translation, The Literary Review, American Life in Poetry, and Verse Daily. Her translations of poetry by Yves Bonnefoy include Words in Stone and The Origin of Language, and she is now working with Nohad Salameh and Souad Labbize to translate their poems. She lives and teaches in Chicago. More information available at susannalang.com.