The zoo was an enclosure in the northern suburbs
of childhood. We visited twice, maybe three times
in three summers, a strange wintergarden of sun
and old animals tiredly lumbering around the paths
of unusually tropical vegetation and wire cages.
I remember snippets of detail, birds, tiny darting things
which flew free enough in space wired open,
the camel ride, poor creature, just the one, bending up
down endlessly for a white child’s pleasure. Somewhere in
the recesses of memory, a funicular of sorts floats
above open pits of lions, tigers, a black rhino, elephants.
Now flying high across the country, all detail
and particularity disappearing at this distance,
I look down on this elephant earth of ours
at old velvet folds and contours wrinkled
with age, worn like a slow stationary animal
shimmering in the sun. That light grey
glistening sweat of skin turned in tanning
to hide reveals acres of burnt trees, a blunt
gash in the tread of treed valleys. Fields
roll flat like taut soles. Sea, horizon,
ivory cloud tusks disappear into a blur at
the end of the world as if the very things
of people, traffic, noise, buildings, zoos cease
from this moment.
Memory returns the minutae
reminds me of life lived on this elephant earth
of a child in awe of the pained watery eyes,
those endless depths patiently meeting mine.
Copyrighted by the author