Issue Forty-Four - Summer 2024

At the Zoo

By Gayle Kaune

At the zoo I saw a mole rat
in its glass-windowed burrow —
such tiny teeth — and when
it looked at me, two inches away,
and yawned, I was no longer
disappointed that the leopard
had slept in the shade camouflaged
by its perfect spots.

At the zoo I watched two camels
wrestle with each other.
Not fighting, but leaning over
and under and taking
the other’s foot in its mouth.
“Like a game of Twister,”
my grandson remarked and the docent lady
said they were siblings and play constantly.

At the zoo my oxygen was running low
so I sat at the entrance and waited
for my family to circle back.
I watched a bouquet of young school children,
dressed in bright pink shirts
boys and girls, gathered up by a teacher —
—President’s day and a time for field trips.

At the zoo people observed me:
white-haired lady with cannula in her nose.
I sketched the Palo Verde
and its thin branches, no leaves,
while the midday sun carried memories
of past visits when I breathed
without a machine. No matter. My eyes
still worked and the toddler
across the plaza, just learning to walk,
stumbled towards me, arms outstretched,
as if I were his grandma.

Copyright 2024 Kaune