by William Doreski
We learn that giant penguins
roamed the seas after dinosaurs
petered out. Kumimandu, twice
the height, three times the bulk
of the emperor penguin,
would have savaged the fish-world
almost as cruelly as humans have.
You peer at the skeletal drawing
and realize that many neighbors
and friends we encounter downtown
are giant penguins adapted to life
on land, appetites adjusted
to include coffee, bagels, pizza.
You note that the beak and stance
expose them. Pronged conversations
and short legs clever on ice
distinguish them from those born
fully human and incapable
of enjoying long stretches at sea.
Many will see this article
about fossils in New Zealand
and surely some will notice
that their beaked friends and neighbors
never reveal their torsos because
their feathers would give them away.
They must be cozy in winter,
but summer would be a challenge.
We wonder if they’re susceptible
to bird flu. Maybe their doctors,
alert to their genetic heritage,
vaccinate them so thoroughly
they can’t endanger the village.
Let’s hope so. Don’t mention
this article to friends who
seem to be giant penguins.
They’ve impersonated persons
all their lives, so leave them
to foster their eggs in peace.
William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He has taught at several colleges and universities. His most recent book of poetry is Dogs Don’t Care (2022). His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in various journals.