Cascadia

Columbia Basin Pygmy Rabbit:
Poetry by Xavier Cavazos
Art by Emily Poole

from Cascadia Field Guide: Art | Ecology | Poetry

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This excerpt of Cascadia Field Guide: Art | Ecology | Poetry, edited by Elizabeth Bradfield, CMarie Fuhrman, and Derek Sheffield, is reprinted by permission of the author and the publisher, Mountaineers Books.

Cascadia Field Guide: Art | Ecology | Poetry, Edited by Elizabeth Bradfield, CMarie Fuhrman, and Derek Sheffield

Have you ever been so filled up with the wonder of a place that it wants to spill out as a song? Well, here is the songbook. I imagine walking through a forest and pausing to read these illuminating pages aloud to a listening cedar or a dipper. There are field guides that help us to see, and to name, and to know; Cascadia Field Guide does all of that and more. This is a guide to relationship, a gift in reciprocity for the gifts of the land.
  – Robin Wall Kimmerer, author of Braiding Sweetgrass

Learn more and purchase the book.

Columbia Basin Pygmy Rabbit

(Brachylagus idahoensis)

The world’s smallest rabbit might also be considered the world’s cutest. Columbia Basin Pygmy Rabbit can fit in the palm of your hand—soft gray fur; short, round ears; and eyes like drops of obsidian peering into yours.

Like Greater Sage-grouse, they rely on Big Sagebrush for most of their food, as well as for cover to keep them hidden from Weasel, Coyote, and other predators. Unlike other rabbits, who use existing burrows created by other beings, Pygmy Rabbit digs their own in loose sandy soil. Once their burrow is created, they become the ultimate homebodies and range only up to about three hundred feet away from one of their four or five burrow entrances for the rest of their lives.

Columbia Basin Pygmy Rabbit is mostly crepuscular, meaning they are most active during dawn and dusk when dim light gives them the best chance to stay hidden while foraging or socializing. They can have several litters during the spring and summer, filling their burrows with tiny, squirming kits. As much of the Shrub-steppe has been lost or fragmented due to Human activity, Columbia Pygmy Rabbit’s population has declined to near extinction. In 2001, only one population with fewer than twenty individuals remained in Washington.

During winter months, in search of food, Pygmy Rabbit tunnels from their burrows to nearby plants. The next time you gaze out across a snow-covered Shrub-steppe, imagine all the life going on below.

Columbia Basin Pygmy Rabbit

 

Columbia Basin Pygmy Rabbit

when i dream
                                        fuego

is a bobcat’s
open mouth—an owl’s

turning eye-gaze

                 when fuego dreams
raven       weasel and even i

are called by name
kindle kindle

kindling

 

 

 

Xavier CavazosXavier Cavazos, a Chicanx from the central Washington desert of Moses Lake, is the author of Diamond Grove Slave Tree, which won the inaugural Prairie Seed Poetry Prize from Ice Cube Press, Barbarian at the Gate, which was published in the Poetry Society of America’s New American Poets Chapbook Series, and the forthcoming The Devils’ Workshop (2023).

Emily PooleEmily Poole was raised in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and has now put down roots in the mossy hills of Oregon. She received her BFA in Illustration from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2016. She has created work for numerous organizations including the National Museum of Wildlife Art, Creature Conserve, Sasquatch Books, and High Country News. By making playful and accessible images that foster an emotional connection between the viewer and the subject matter, Poole seeks to engage viewers in learning about what’s going on in the natural world and what they can do to protect it.

Header image, Eastern Rivers Cluster, by Justin Gibbens, from Cascadia Field Guide. Photo of Xavier Cavazos courtesy Pictures of Poets.

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