Home to Roost
By Kay Ryan
are circling and
blotting out the
day. The sun is
bright, but the
chickens are in
the way. Yes,
the sky is dark
dense with them.
They turn and
then they turn
are the chickens
you let loose
one at a time
Now they have
the same kind
at the same speed.
One more by Ryan, who married her partner Carol Adair during the brief period in 2004 when San Francisco was issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, then did it again this month now that it's legal all over California. They met teaching classes at San Quentin State Prison, and Adair helped raise the money to publish Ryan's first book of poetry. "Still shying away from difficult themes 'like heart,' Ryan assigned herself a task: She would get out a pack of tarot cards, turn one card over every day and write a poem from it," Ryan told The Washington Post's Bob Thompson in "Verse of the Turtle". "'So I had to start dealing with these abstractions like love, death, the wheel of fortune.'"
Friday morning our car decided it did not like our plans for the rest of the trip. First it turned on the "maintenance required" light, which as it turns out means that it had been more than 500 miles since we had the oil changed; we had it changed two days before we left on this trip, but apparently Toyota has the onboard computer programmed to instill fear into the hearts of drivers nonetheless. So we stopped to check that out, then got back on the road, only to get a flat tire while driving through terrible traffic around Columbia, Missouri. By the time AAA arrived, helped put the spare onto our very heavy van with all our traveling stuff, and directed us to the next town where the first tire place we came to was out of business and the downtown looked like it had been in a recession for several years, we knew there was no way we would get to both the St. Louis Zoo and the City Museum that day.
So we went to Dairy Queen for lunch while our ripped tire was being replaced, called to change our hotel reservations for the night, and finally drove to St. Louis's awesome City Museum, which is both brilliant and somewhat indescribable -- the museum doesn't have a map, just sets people loose on its massive climbing structures that go several stories up both inside and outside the museum, leading to caves, a hall of mirrors, a collection of architectural decorations, an arcade, a pair of small airplanes, an aquarium with more than a dozen touch tanks and open cages to allow petting of rabbits, parrots and tortoises, a model train display of the city with tunnels that people can climb in, an artistic seascape with ship ropes and live fish and turtles, and a nice little sandwich shop where we had dinner before finally heading to the hotel to let the kids swim a bit before bedtime. I cannot recommend this museum highly enough, especially if you have kids.
The indoor climbing structures lead between the floors of the museum...
...as well as down to the cave section, where stalactites alternate with the shapes of fantastic creatures.
The kids declared this their favorite museum ever.
There is also an aquarium with numerous turtles in touch tanks, like this albino red-eared slider...
...dozens of tanks with rare fish, lizards, snakes, and small mammals, all donated pets whose owners couldn't take care of them...
...and larger open tanks with sharks, rays, sea turtles, Mississippi catfish, and Amazon river fish among others. There are also otters, rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs, parrots and other kid-friendly animals to pet.
Part of the train display with a boy popping up under one of the domes.
We will go to the St. Louis zoo early in the morning since we skipped it today, meaning that we won't go to the Indianapolis zoo this trip, though we have been told by our friends from Indianapolis that this is definitely the right choice (and I am still planning to meet mamadracula for dinner somewhere in Indiana, whoo!). I am just hoping for slightly less chaos!