Zoo

by Rob A. Mackenzie

She is only three, yet she has touched
an elephant, something I have never done.

She touched the elephant because of me.
I sent her to the nursery, signed
the consent form for the zoo trip.
She knows nothing of this.

“The skin”, she says, “is rough” – a new word
parroted from someone else,
now a studied is of her elephant. Later she tells me
it was smooth.

“Was the elephant warm?” I ask. “The elephant
is warm”, she answers,
as if the question and answer mean anything
beyond the experience itself
and its memory – the touch of elephant, the friction
of skin on skin – which I cannot share.

To catch up, to be the father
she needs, I can imagine one day, for her,
raising my head before a lion’s mouth,
unless handing her a kitten will do.