“Do Animals Grieve Too?,” “Competition,” and “Rainy Day in New York”

“Do Animals Grieve Too?,” “Competition,” and “Rainy Day in New York”

“Do Animals Grieve Too?,” “Competition,” and “Rainy Day in New York”
Photo by Erich Röthlisberger from Pixabay

Do Animals Grieve Too?

Sri Lanka closed its zoos in March 2020. Amid the absence of visitors, animal births in the zoos rose 25 percent

—New York Times, June 2, 2021

The black swan fluffs

her dark wings, red beak

as surprising as the peacock’s

white plumes, gauzy half moon

wedding veil and the fact

that they both bore offspring

for the first time

in Sri Lankan zoos empty

of humans craning their necks

to see them wandering beneath

thousand year old Baobab trees.

Chendra though, an elephant

orphaned in Borneo

when loggers cleared the land

for palm oil plantations,

became pregnant in the Oregon zoo

but miscarried

for reasons unknown

as apparently many mammals do,

near the end

of her first trimester,

like you did before I was born.


After Kimiko Hahn, “Toxic Flora”

The common reed, Phragmites australis,

tall, tasseled and sleek as a switch supplants

the teeming marshes—where snowy egrets wade

between blue-spiked pickerelweed’s dark green leaves—

with vast patches of monochromatic grass, clustered

tips flutter like ostrich feathers in Greta Garbo’s boa.

A store of stockpiled weapons, Phragmites

exudes acid from its rhizomes, cuts up

fibers in the roots of native species as easily
as the witch’s scissors snip Rapunzel’s hair.

Deceptively peaceful, Black Walnuts also employ chemical

warfare with abandon, guard their ground with juglone,

a poison that wilts lush leaves of nearby plants, stings

like a sibling’s well placed put down at the family party.

Rainy Day in New York

Minute raindrops sparkle

on my cell phone screen,

silver, red and new leaf green,

like sprinkles on a birthday cake,

or confetti showered after

wedding vows, tossed in the women’s

soccer team parade, dropped

with the ball on New Year’s Eve.

I know raindrops act as lenses,

amplifying colored pixels

that conjure the display,

like the magnifying glass

in my grandson’s hand expands

pollen grains that yellow the anthers

in Dutch red tulips packed

into planters on Columbus Avenue.

Still, my phone confetti brightens

the rainy day, delights like the lights

on Christmas trees when we walked

that last time down Park Avenue.

About the Author

Patricia Hemminger

Patricia Hemminger’s experience of growing up in rural UK, along with her science background and love of nature, informs and inspires her poetry. She is a science and environmental writer who holds a PhD in chemistry and is a graduate of NYU’s Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program (SHERP) and of Drew University’s MFA Poetry Program. Her poems have been published in Spillway, The Blue Nib, Tiny Seed Literary Journal, River Heron Review, Twyckenham Notes and Streetlight Magazine, among others. Her chapbook What do We Know of Time is forthcoming by Finishing Line Press in 2022.

Read more work by Patricia Hemminger.