Kolmården Zoo

By Bill Coyle Bill Coyle
Over our heads, trailing a wake of air   
and an enormous shadow as it passed,   
the falcon glided to its trainer’s fist   
and settled like a loaded weapon there.   

Then, while she fed the bird bit after bit   
of... what? rabbit? the trainer gave her talk:   
These birds, she said, prey on the small and weak,   
adding for the children’s benefit   

that this, though it seems cruel, is really good   
since otherwise the other rabbits, mice,   
squirrels, what have you, would run out of space   
and die of illness or a lack of food.   

I know what she was trying to get across,   
and I don’t doubt it would be healthier   
if we were more familiar than we are   
with how the natural world draws life from loss;   

and granted, nothing is more natural   
than death incarnate falling from the sky;   
and granted, it is better some should die,   
however agonizingly, than all.   

Still, to teach children this is how things go   
is one thing, to insist that it is good   
is something else—it is to make a god   
of an unsatisfactory status quo,   

this vicious circle that the clock hands draw   
and quarter, while the serpent bites its tail,   
or eats the dust, or strikes at someone’s heel,   
or winds up comprehended by a claw.   

She launched the bird again. We watched it climb   
out of the amphitheatre, headed toward   
the darkened spires of a nearby wood,   
then bank, then angle toward us one last time.

Source: Poetry (March 2006).

 Bill  Coyle


Bill Coyle's first collection of poetry, The God of This World to His Prophet (Ivan R. Dee, 2006), won the New Criterion Poetry Prize.

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SUBJECT Activities, School & Learning, Nature, Animals, Arts & Sciences, Philosophy, Social Commentaries, War & Conflict

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