Randel McCraw Helms
Last Living Male White Rhino Now Sleeps in Hope
(Sudan, the last male northern white rhino, died March 19, 2018, at age 45.
There remain but two of his kind: his daughter Najin and grand-daughter Fatu.)
When Sudan died, his dozen caregivers wept,
Not only because he was magnificent
And they loved him, but that his long line now
Could end, forever. Quickly they withdrew
What little sperm remained in his wizened
Vesicles, and froze it lovingly. Consider
Its infinite worth: fifty-five million
Years of urgent transmission culminates
In these precious droplets. Seed from others
Of his species now dead, also carefully
Preserved, quietly awaits its goal in
The body of young Fatu. What better hope
For the human heart itself than such love
For a dying kind not even ourselves?
Randel McCraw Helms is retired from Arizona State University’s English Department. His recent poems have appeared in such places as Young Ravens Literary Review, Dappled Things, and Silkworm. His chapbook “Animal Prayers” was published in 2020.