Fall 2009 / Issues / Poetry 2009 / Volume 40

Animal Dreams — Jane Medved

The world with its cause and effect is repeating

itself like a large cat measuring the hours

of its cage. The watermelons are back. The elephants

use them as bowling balls on their way to the zoo.

Their tails burn my fingers like cheap string.

Trees crash behind them, then sink and blow away.

Their tusks have the bitter taste of a pale aphrodisiac.

Their ears fill my eyes like great white sails

that wander the desert as they follow the smell of mud

from last winter’s rain. One day they will bury me

then whisper with their feet. Babe Ruth never knew

he’d end up as a candy bar in Cincinnati,

and an elephant’s tail doesn’t really burn my fingers.

Actually, I’ve never touched one, but other people have.

They’ve filled up boxes with blue parrots and taught

them how to speak. “Oooh la, la. Is this the Madam?”

Parrots like to talk dirty because it makes us laugh.

“Voulez-vous coueher avec moi, ce soir?”

I lie down next to the panther and stroke his soft

night ears. “Shana klana kepala. Go shluffy now.”

Tomorrow we will walk through the smoking city

where the buildings rustle and break like leaves.

We have no pockets to put our change, so we will walk

all the way to Africa. “Voulez-vous coucher

avec moi, ce soir?” Even as the continent swallows

itself into a tight little ball. Even as the path

grows old and the elephants sweep it

underground with their long, trembling trunks.

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