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In spring, when you hear the Cuckoo's cuckoo
from groves and from copses, he’s not calling you,
for where cattle and horses and sheep now are seen
a huge shaggy beast once would graze on the green.
It’s the Mammoth they’re for, those two notes on and on,
and the Woolly Rhinoceros, but they are both gone.
Like cowbirds tend buffalo herds, here today,
the cuckoos kept nits and mosquitoes away
from mammoths enveloped in tangled brown hair.
As grooms of the steppes, they were too busy there
to bother with hatchlings and building of nests,
they left all their young to be other birds’ guests.
Though long out of work now, with time for a home,
they farm out their eggs and continue to roam,
since the cuckoos just cannot quite give up the hope
that once again mammoths will lurch down the slope
out of the mists of past thousands of years
if only their cuckoos could reach those old ears.