Henri Rousseau’s Safari Park

by Chris Buchanan
Poetry, 2010

We visited Henri Rousseau’s safari park when the wars
were done. The place was overgrown, left
in such a hurry.

The leaves we could see in that little clearing were choking,
splattered into wet root husks and mud,
turning deep and greasy as they bent into heaps,
churning the rain into thick, dark colour.

No animals were still in sight but the really frightened ones
with the biggest teeth.

The branches were thinner there, beyond that sole glass
window that stood there, constrained to its case
but rattling in the winds,
where the ticket office had been.

The park must have been beautiful in the moment,
when the bombs were cracking the city around it,
after the gift shop and before the peace time.

When we finally arrived, it was too late.
The zookeeper had moved on, left this stark storm behind him.
Europe was safe for one more generation.
We got in our car, wiped our glasses and left.

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