The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Saturday, 'Sub Rosa,' National Zoo

At the Providence Zoo
By Stephen Burt

Like the Beatles arriving from Britain,
the egret's descent on the pond
takes the reeds and visitors by storm:
it is a reconstructed marsh
environment, the next
best thing to living out your wild life.

Footbridges love the past.
And like the Roman questioner who learned
"the whole of the Torah while standing on one leg,"
flamingos are pleased to ignore us. It is not known
whether that Roman could learn to eat upside-down,
by dragging his tremendous head through streams.

Comical, stately, the newly-watched tortoises
mate; one pushes the other over the grass,
their hemispheres clicking, on seven legs
in toto. Together they make
a Sydney opera house,
a concatenation of anapests, almost a waltz.

Confined if not preserved,
schoolteachers, their charges, vigilant lemurs, wrens
and prestidigitating tamarins,
and dangerous badgers like dignitaries stare
at one another, hot
and concave in their inappropriate coats.

Having watched a boa
eat a rat alive,
the shortest child does as she was told?
looks up, holds the right hand
of the buddy system, and stands,
as she explains it, "still as a piece of pie."


The kids had no school because of a state-wide teachers' convention, so Paul took the day off and we went downtown early to the zoo for the Meet a Kiwi event in the Bird House. Virginia schools weren't closed and there were many field trips from Fairfax County schools, but it wasn't terribly crowded anywhere we went and this was the smallest Meet a Kiwi group we've been a part of yet, which was very nice because it was hosted by the woman who was at the kiwi event in the Port Royal conservation facility a couple of weeks ago, who's terrific. (Coincidentally, today was the day the zoo announced the name of the newest kiwi chick hatched earlier this year, who had been nicknamed Squeakers -- it's Areta, a Maori name that means "of noble kind.")

Since it was a gorgeous cool day and volunteers were setting up for Boo at the Zoo, the Halloween celebration, we walked around nearly the entire zoo, visiting both the indoor and outdoor bird houses, the Asia Trail, the new elephant enclosure, the invertebrates, the reptiles, the great cats, Amazonia, the small mammal house, and various other animals. We had brought a picnic to the zoo, and while we ate it, the orangutans were traveling 50 feet above our heads on the O Line from the great ape house to the Think Tank, where they play memory games. Other than a roaring lion (probably missing his females, since each of them had cubs within the past few weeks) and pair of turtles harassing a third and biting its flippers in the Amazon River exhibit, all the animals looked content!

Adam greets Manaia at the Meet a Kiwi event at the resource center in the Bird House.

Since the group was so small, I got my picture taken with Manaia too.

The orangutans enjoyed the fall afternoon, traveling across the O Line in both directions in the time we were visiting the zoo.

Though the elephants have a huge new enclosure, they were clustered together waiting to be fed when we saw them.

The lion did a lot of pacing and roaring when we saw him.

The giant panda, however, did a lot of lounging in the sun and eating bamboo.

The meerkats are always a popular attraction in the Small Mammal House.

This spoonbill in Amazonia was eager to greet humans at eye level, but tried to bite any who came close enough, including my family.

When we got home, I posted my review of the painfully bad Next Gen episode "Sub Rosa", then we went to my parents' for dinner. I very much enjoyed the Smallville revisionist history nostalgia trip -- okay, not the flashbacks with Lana involved, but getting to see Lionel and Jonathan fighting is always a treat, and how fun to see Clark NOT enjoying the chance to be popular in high school, plus the glimpse of his future self -- "How did I become so uptight? And nerdy?" -- who has finally told Lois everything. I adored the ending when he told her he loved her, and I also adored his recognition that Oliver needs him (when that bitch at the reunion told Lois, "You're the moth, not the flame," I was half-hoping Lois would retort, "Sweetie, I'm the beard, Oliver's the flame").

I miss when this show was an allegory of growing up gay and Clark's parents loved him unconditionally, so I'm always happy to see Clark reminisce, and I'll take Oliver Queen over most of the politicians running in November. We put on the Rangers-Yankees game briefly but figured it might be better luck for the Rangers if we turned it off while they were winning, then we watched the season premiere of Sanctuary. I must admit that that show goes right out of my head as soon as I watch it, so I didn't remember at all what was happening last season after Ashley left, but I enjoyed seeing Helen, Henry, and Forsythe again, and I am amused that death in Kali's universe is the wheat field from Gladiator. I see that the Hobbit movie has finally been greenlit -- now I hope I actually like it!

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