Poetry: Kolmården Zoo

Kolmår­den Zoo
by Bill Coyle

Over our heads, trail­ing a wake of air
and an enor­mous shad­ow as it passed,
the fal­con glid­ed to its trainer’s fist
and set­tled like a loaded weapon there.

Then, while she fed the bird bit after bit
of…what? rab­bit? the train­er gave her talk:
These birds, she said, prey on the small and weak,
adding for the children’s benefit

that this, though it seems cru­el, is real­ly good
since oth­er­wise the oth­er rab­bits, mice,
squir­rels, what have you, would run out of space
and die of ill­ness or a lack of food.

I know what she was try­ing to get across,
and I don’t doubt it would be healthier
if we were more famil­iar than we are
with how the nat­ur­al world draws life from loss;

and grant­ed, noth­ing is more natural
than death incar­nate falling from the sky;
and grant­ed, it is bet­ter some should die,
how­ev­er ago­niz­ing­ly, than all.

Still, to teach chil­dren this is how things go
is one thing, to insist that it is good
is some­thing else—it is to make a god
of an unsat­is­fac­to­ry sta­tus quo,

this vicious cir­cle that the clock hands draw
and quar­ter, while the ser­pent bites its tail,
or eats the dust, or strikes at someone’s heel,
or winds up com­pre­hend­ed by a claw.

She launched the bird again. We watched it climb
out of the amphithe­atre, head­ed toward
the dark­ened spires of a near­by wood,
then bank, then angle toward us one last time.

Cyn is Rick's wife, Katie's Mom, and Esther & Oliver's Mémé. She's also a professional geek, avid reader, fledgling coder, enthusiastic gamer (TTRPGs), occasional singer, and devoted stitcher.
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