Zoology
by Sasha West

The rhino loves the camel as the camel is the color of the dying grass, the muddy stream
and the camel loves the turtle because its shell reflects a dulled sun & tarnished moon
and, O, how the turtle loves the bee
but the bee loves only the flower & its own making of honey.

In Houston, all we do is buy: the cast-iron dog who stops the door,
the plastic turtle our children flail about in. The man I love will have
the muzzle of a bear or else he will render his face in plaster, die before me.

The dog loves the moon for being homely & the widow
loves the flowers for having no earthly scent. They swim
like small fishes round the coffin.

The porcupine dreams of sleeping in the elephant’s ear, shielded from the thunder.
Saint Sebastian loved quills, hunted porcupines until he was one, made by arrows.
The painting made him feathered, but not hopeful, and the man I love
sank down before it.
He was fond of saying Time’s just that beast whose fur we cling to.
He was fond of the herds inside my body.




"Zoology" first appeared in American Letters & Commentary