Journal Entry (Last Sighting of the Dodo)

Hannah Rodabaugh

Hannah Rodabaugh

Journal Entry (Last Sighting of the Dodo) was selected for MSUL’s themed call for work about Water, in coordination with the MSU Broad Art Museum’s fall 2023 exhibition, Flint is Family in Three Acts, featuring the photography of Latoya Ruby Frazier.

We drove them together into one place in such a manner that we could catch them with our hands, and when we held one of them by its leg, the others came running as fast as they could to its assistance, and by which they were caught and made prisoners also.
 —Volkert Evertsz, 1662
We watched them walking towards us, bobbing their heads,
black feathers waving like a flag; they were walking into
a future they'd never get to walk out of—a future of changes
done to any landscape, riveting clouds of steel over every
inlet, river, bay. We watched them walking towards us.
Caught one, twisted its leg till it cried out. Watched the
others run from trees. Watched them twisting in our nets.
We used them up, their breath bubbling, bodies to the sea.
We twisted words and feelings, doomed them for irredeemable
gestures of loyalty. Carolina parakeets easier to kill when they
were flocked around their dead. We reward the selfless hero;
we will not reward the dodo. We reward our own emotions,
but we use them in most animals. We use them to defend
what we've always known, we've always been afraid of:
that the using of your kindness is the worst way of turning
your empathy against you, until you're broken in two ways,
and nothing that you know of can ever repair them both.

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