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Poetry

A Different Polar Explorer:
Lady, Last of the Enderby Island Cattle—1993

Elizabeth Bradfield

We made her twice, first
through displacement and neglect,
then through vial and biotech nudge. 

For over a century, her Shetland short-horn kin
ranged sub-Antarctic Enderby Island, endured
its winds, found forage in what
was cast to shore.  And so, as they
changed the island, it changed them.

Like bilge-brought zebra mussels
in the Great Lakes, like Aleutian
bird-egg-eating foxes.  Like the dream
of the huia or woolly mammoth roaming again.

On Enderby, Lady worked her cud of seaweed, she
hoofed down the native flora, and times changed. 

State-paid shooters took out
all forty-seven head.  They took
eight hundred straws of semen,
but the herd, the breed was thought lost.

One year later, two men found
Lady’s hoofprints, tracked her,
netted her, brought her to
New Zealand where 

      22 embryos reconstructed with
      meataphase II cytoplasts and quiescent
      cells were activated and fused

and two calves were born, and one, our Elsie
(LC, Lady Clone), survived, nuzzling the teat
that is her mother’s, her own, the brine milk.

Still, I want to know a few things:  If
something differs in the gaze of Lady
and her clone.  If wind sounds
the same through their identical ears.  If seaweed
on the tongue speaks of something lost. 
If what was done was good.

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