Incident In The Zoo

From Prairie Schooner

The little fennec foxes from the veldt are shy
And quiet and they keep
The largest ears of anything so small
Wide open in their sleep.

There in the corner of the slatted cage
Stirring awake
The shudder at the city’s iron pulse.
You cannot make

Friends with them. No one can make friends with them,
They are too shy
From fear of the shaking ground, the thunder
From track and sky.

They move in memory among mint leaves.
Their lives are bound
To a lost land, all night their ears have captured
No friendly sound.

Only once did I see their ears uplifted—
Wild hearts so wrung!
It came as the lion house—remote and dreadful—
Spoke, in its tongue.

-Loren Eiseley


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