The Wisdom of Others
Concerning Animals

"Animals are such agreeable friends – they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms."

~~ George Eliot (1857)

"I think I could turn and live with animals, they
are so placid and self-contain’d.
I stand and look at them long and long.

They do not sweat and whine about their condition,
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for
their sins,
They do not make me sick discussing their
duty to god,
Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented
with the mania of owning things,
Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that
lived thousands of years ago,
Not one is respectable or unhappy over the
whole earth."

~~ Walt Whitman (Leaves of Grass)

"Faux Yawps at the National Zoo"

My invitation to the Women’s Club
Choux in the Zoo event was obligatory.
Philistine to leave my name off the list.

Breakfast in the Elephant House;
not all pachyderms are adorned in gray.
One wears ill-fitting Anna Sui, sports
an alligator purse. Of course, she means
no insult to hippopotamus or reptile.
Comrades pair bond; I, the ostracized ostrich,

slip unnoticed from my social group;
sip Earl Grey tea with mellow Mandara,
a lowland gorilla at the Ape House.
I’ve brought her favorite picture book,
Gorilla Walk,” by the Lewins;
hold it against the glass so she can see.
We are careful never to look each other
directly in the eye; she signals when to turn
the page with a brusque hand flick.

White-cheeked gibbons live up to their name.
Kwame is in fine form; today he screams
as if he means it. I draw in a large breath,
prepare for blitzkreig. I yell, “eeh-eeeh-ooh-oooh-
mimic his aggressive posture, complete with knuckle-drag.
Midway through our second barrage,
my phylum of chordates catches up to me.

“Well, I never!” snoots Ms. Pachyderm.
“Well I never, either,” I volley, “at least
not until now. He had it coming, you know.”

© 2000 MJM


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