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All content copyright 2010 by Chelsea Biondolillo. Seriously.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

No. 2: Maillol's merganser

Glaciers take eons to form. One cold winter (or two or ten) is not enough to shape the land in ice's image. Compaction takes time, and a carving to the bone of basement rock too, is long coming. until deeper still, the Earth's crust is cracked as easily as a brûlée by a stern spoon.

But even as it cuts, so too, the water is held. Earth and water: stuck. Stuck.

It is in these desolate, stilled seas that the last of Maillol's merganser can be found. It soars the frozen floes, searching for signs of fish.

The bird can easily be identified by its thick, tapered wings and from below, wide, bronze legs. It's breast and belly are granite colored, and it's back and wings, dark stone. In flight, which is the only way it has yet been recorded, it is both broad and graceful. Always, it searches.

How long this bird has searched is unclear. Only one has been recorded, ever, and it seems to still endure: the last or only of its kind. Its age is unknown or even guessed at. Has it hunted the glaciers since they were rivers rich in fish? Were there once many, saluting the dawn with guttural cries of still still still?

How it continues, this single specimen, with no nest or meal or mate, is not recorded anywhere.

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