Issue 163, Fall 2002
The Zoo at Night
The last toddler's howls evanesce like ash
on a breeze, the parking lot empties of cars.
A purple shock of cotton candy rots
to syrup in the otter pond. The net
above the eagle melts against the dark,
and the cobra's artificial Egypt
of Plexiglas, reflecting no flashbulbs
or school groups, resolves to air.
He sways up from the dust like a drunken root.
Will each animal, its cell erased, now dream
it is free and make its true noise, like a killer
confessing in his sleep? I stop my jog
and kneel at the ivy-spidered fence to listen.
Strange groans I can't place: a rhinoceros
with the flu? Wolves in transport? No, my own breath
escaping its cage, then rushing back in.