The Giraffes Escape
Promenading down the boulevard, that early
June morning in Amstelveen, down
Piet de Winterlaan, miles away
from the circus pitch before the trainers
have caught on - we see the vista
from our coffee room window,
a splendid procession bridging the street –
fifteen camels, two zebras, a clutch
of llamas, a shuffle of elephants,
and loping in the lead, the giraffes.
Having kicked down the gates as if you were
at Mt. Ararat, still waiting for those pigeons
to return, not knowing if they even would;
fenced in from all sides without the sight
of sun or sky or boundless savannah;
huddled together in eighty square feet
of sweltering cabin-space; surrounded
by the spoor of lions, the howl of
cheetahs, the baying of wolves,
the ominous stare of vultures.
All this, for interminable days and
interminable nights, hardly getting any sleep,
with the hippopotamuses hogging the haybales,
the terrapins nipping at the trough,
the koalas stingy with the eucalyptus.
Something snaps, and suddenly
there you are, kicking at the cubicle,
loosening the boards, behind you the cries of
Shem, Ham, and Japheth as they try to wake
their father from blissful oblivion.
But none of that matters, none of it but for that
moment when the barricade falls, when you are
striding across the veldt, past office stalls,
through diluvian wave, when you are -
for that first, magnificent moment – free.