Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Freeing Rilke's Panther

Like Rilke's panther, the leopard
paces the cage and, with just a piece
of glass wedged between us, we see
his honey colored, rich dappled fur and
I understand why such skins were
so sought after. Oh human desire,
the ultimate in coveting another's

The baby just learned to sign
"dog" last week and to him
the wild zoo animals are all
just big dogs. He sees no
danger in the leopard's fangs
or the grizzly's thickened
paws and curled claws pressed
up against the window before us,
playing even.

For a long while, zoos were just
a sad place filled with caged
spirits. I did not visit zoos. But
with a baby again, they are the
wide-eyed first glimpse of some-
thing more marvelous than this
captive state. It is as if life herself
came tumbling onto a mat before
us, beckoning.

So now, small striped sweaters
hang on hooks outside the
laundry room; there is ground-up
O's cereal in the carpet; my glass-
front bookshelf faces towards the
wall to prevent a most-certain
breakage; and Carl books once
again mark the path to the front
hall stairs.

It is welcome, though. This captive
period, cocooned inside our home.
Early bed times, wakeful nights,
stinky diapers, iron-deficiencies,
flaring tempers over a closed
cupboard door and a language
barrier. It all passes so quickly into
another state where zoos once again
become only blackness circling

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