Billy Collins

Poet Laureate of the United States, 2001 – 2003

It is so quiet on the shore of this motionless lake
you can hear the slow recessional of extinct animals
as they leave through a door at the back of the world,
disappearing like the verbs of a dead language:

the last troop of kangaroos hopping out of the picture,
the ultimate paddling of ducks and pitying of turtledoves
and, his bell tolling in the distance, the final goat.


“Endangered” from Questions About Angels by Billy Collins © 1991. Reprinted by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press

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