Tuesday, July 1, 2008


We went to the zoo today, chiefly to see someone who works there. While we were there, we looked at a few exhibited creatures. The lemurs looked like they'd been up all night, drinking caffeine and writing term-papers. In fact, pretty much all the creatures looked weary. It was late in the day, after all, and a humid day, too. The elephants looked very sleepy, but they also looked as if they felt lying down would require too much work. For an elephant to lie down is a bit like a building dismantling itself.

The tapirs were doing well. They seemed to have joined together in a civil union, and physically, they seemed to prefer to stand in a kind of parallel position. They wore matching fur outfits.

The Sumatran tiger was completely out of it, sleeping deeply, not even a flick of the tail.

I liked the empty exhibits. You walk up and look through the glass or over the fence, and there's no creature in particular there. It's as if someone took a great deal of trouble to create a space for absence. So you stand there and start to observe other people, who are, after all, inside the zoo, just like the other animals. Maybe they could employ a poet to sit in one of those empty spaces. The sign could say something like "Poet--Hominid," and people could take pictures of the person as he or she wrote a word and then erased it.

Crows at a zoo behave in an even more superior fashion than they do elsewhere, it seems. They hang around tables at a cafe, pretending to be customers, and they're all full of themselves about not being on exhibit, or part of the paying public, or part of the paid staff.

I saw the father of two young children buy two brightly colored cloth snakes for the kids. While he was purchasing the second one, his wife, mother-in-law, and kids sat a a table nearby. Referring to the kid who already had a snake, the wife yelled, "He just tried to make the snake kill my mother!" Then she laughed. So did the mother, who's apparently not afraid of cloth snakes or her grandchildren. I don't know, though. I might keep an eye on that one kid if I were her. The dad seemed moderately amused by the cloth-attempt on the mother-in-law's life.
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