A giraffe presented its head to me, tilting it
sideways, reaching out its long gray tongue.
I gave it my wheat cracker while small drops
of rain pounded us both. Lightning cracked open
the sky. Zebras zipped across the field.
It was springtime in Michigan. I watched
the giraffe shuffle itself backwards, toward
the herd, its bone- and rust-colored fur beading
with water. The entire mix of animals stood
away from the trees. A lone emu shook
its round body hard and squawked. It ran
along the fence line, jerking open its wings.
Perhaps it was trying to shake away the burden
of water or indulging an urge to fly. I can’t know.
I have no idea what about their lives these animals
love or abhor. They are captured or born here for us,
and we come. It’s true. This is my favorite field.
Kristen Tracy has published poems in Threepenny Review, Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. She co-edited A Chorus for Peace: A Global Anthology of Poetry by Women. Her first novel for teens, Lost It, was published by Simon & Schuster, and her second novel, Crimes of the Sarahs, will be released in spring 2008. (updated 9/2007)