Saturday, December 26, 2009

Chongqing Zoo

In Chongqing Zoo there are not only pandas

but bears with honey-coloured faces,

which when enticed with crisp-fried noodles

will perform a clumsy pirouette

or lie with legs extended and vulnerable parts unnaturally exposed.

Meanwhile a Bactrian camel blinks his long-lashes and dreams of caravans and marches through a cold desert

and an old black chimp remembers another time - of chattering from branches, and leaping from trees -

instead of this concrete pen with a fugitive mouse.

By the lake, meanwhile, a crane spreads his wings

tends to an itch

then watches the world with an evil eye.

A Pere David's fawn - timorous, inquisitive, vulnerable -

is smelt by the tigers who wipe their lips - futilely - foiled by barriers and ditches.

The mist turns to rain.

Soon now, the skin of the old black sow will surely shrink to fit

and the gardens

and the city will be hidden behind this moving mesh and veil

and grow smaller.