Paw Prints

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by Michael Beadle

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Here they come, all necks and legs,
galloping h's dressed in puzzle-piece suits

moving in a graceful stride
like no other creature on the planet.

We think ourselves lucky to watch
them play, to spend a day diving

with puffins, bounding with lemurs,
trading yawns with lions.

Across the world, we hear the warnings:
ice sheets islanding, every tree bowing

to the chainsaw, oceans of fish vanishing,
skies erased of wing-song. And yet,

our jungle cousins still have faith
we can save them. You see it in their eyes.

Like this morning at the zoo,
before the crowds arrive, you spy a young chimp

chewing his breakfast of lettuce leaves.
He looks up like a child, unblinking.

Faces inches apart, you match palms at the plexiglass,
a prayer between primates,

a silence sealed with a promise
you hope to keep.

dedicated to the North Carolina Zoological Park
September, 2012

Michael Beadle