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Rain at the Zoo

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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.

Poem copyright © Kristen Tracy, whose most recent teen novel is Crimes of the Sarahs, Simon & Schuster, 2008. Poem reprinted from AGNI online, 9/2007, by permission of Kristen Tracy.
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Rain at the Zoo

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  • Kristen Tracy grew up in a small Mormon farming community in Idaho. Tracy earned an MA in American Literature from Brigham Young University, an MFA from Vermont College, and a PhD in English from Western Michigan University. Her poems have appeared in over two dozen literary journals.

    Tracy won the 2017 Emily Dickinson First Book Award for her manuscript Half-Hazard, which was previously a finalist for the Yale Younger Poets Prize and a semi-finalist for the Walt Whitman Award. 

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