Revel has fallen in love with his first TV show, and we use it to put him to sleep some nights.
It’s a video of baby animals in the san diego zoo,
bright colors, peppy music.
He knows nothing of zoos,
of confined lives and gawking tourists.
He just likes to watch the animals moving,
The Meerkats are his favorite, with their quick eyes and tiny hands,
and the Great Apes.
He likes the elephants, and the giraffes too.
But he dislikes the flamingos and the polar bears,
gestures for us to fast forward through.
Watching this over and over has me thinking.
How the animals in zoos often suffer from anxiety disorders,
OCD, ADD, depression, aggression,
unusual social behaviors, not unlike autism spectrum disorder,
bulimia, anorexia, insomnia, infertility.
Just like so many of us.
Seems to me that the cause of the zoo animals’ suffering,
is pretty much the same as ours.
Confined living quarters,
And I think, out of this list,
it’s the convenience that’s really the worst.
Hunting means adventure. Roaming long miles under hot sun,
danger, wind, wild water, fear.
Gathering means wandering,
through shady forests and warm sands.
Carrying babies on hip,
one with the land.
Finding food is a basic need,
a right of all creatures,
it’s what makes us who we are.
What, and how, we eat
gives us our place in the great wheel of life.
It’s why some of us,
have big brains, and opposable thumbs,
and others sharp teeth and long claws.
All different, all unique.
And now we, the humans, are just like those zoo animals.
mad with boredom.
on stacked shelves under fluorescent lights,
are a poor replacement
for the sharp sting of Nettle Leaf on thumb,
or the warm ruby blood of a freshly killed deer.
Buying cereal in a box
is nothing like
watching the Nettles grow from earth,
or seeing the deer rubs fresh on the trees.
Or even the thrill of the first potato sprouting through the soil.
We’re rendered useless,
stripped of our senses and sharp wits,
dumbed and numbed.
Left lethargic in front of screens,
wondering how we got here in the first place.
In the old days, zoos kept the animals caged behind steel bars.
But in modern years, they realized that visitors don’t like to see animals so obviously locked up,
so now the enclosures have more disguised boundaries.
Learn to recognize your boundaries.
Then break out.
You are smart, you were made for this.
Let us bite the hand that feeds us,
and not let go,
steal the keys from the warden’s belt,
and lock the warden in.
with strong muscles and ground hard beneath your feet.
You are a wild thing,
with salty skin,
and sun in your eyes.
Thank you for listening,
Our guest piece tonight was sent to me by fellow writer and land lover, Mara. This poem is a gift Mara. Each time I read it, I am reminded. Of cycles. Of the magic in the day-to-day. Of the quiet revolution stirring in all corners, of this big and beautiful earth. Thank you Mara. Thank you.
Tendency is to till, uprooting soil that might or might not thistle.
lay honey on salt, sage on tainted air.
Instead there is cliff and cloud.
Instead, we micromanage.
mourn the mourning, give into grief.
Inclination is to immerse, mint confined to a four-inch kettle and basil in stasis.
remember recklessness, relinquish reminders.
Instead there is a rotting butternut flung over the fence to take root in burdock.
retrieve the earth from a plastic bag, wring out the ragweed.
Penchant is to plow, uncovering bones restless enough to wander.
forage through forgetting.
Find every sacred ground you can recall.
Instead there is thistle and thorn, cactus and wild columbine.
Yellow violets scattered midst the fiddleheads.
Maple sap dripping down an old, old tree.