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
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.