I hope that you have played the game of figuring out which animal you are. It’s not the same thing as saying what your favourite animal is, or what animal you would like to transform into if you had the power. This is a question of saying, based on your personality, your spirit, what have you: what animal are you?
After the eighth hour, the rainy conservatory
With our conversation pushed back and forth between us
Like a chore for which neither of us would quite
We scrapped that. We unscrewed a screw-top
Bottle of anonymous wine and wheeled out
The old game: If I were an animal,
What would I be?
You were curled on the sofa as a comma,
Waiting, a held moment,
Preened exquisitely. You smoked, and
Were smoke itself: you played the ocelot.
I knew it would be feline: and nothing at all
Domestic would do.
The rest joined in, a menagerie
Of barking laughter from the rowdier boys;
Sly, slithering accusations
From reptiles; an awful lot
Of monkeying around. But also
There were those who confessed to be
Creatures they could not possibly be.
Around us I saw lions
Considering whether they were in fact some foul
Burrowing lizard, for lack of identity,
Genuine heroes too modest to roar:
And conversely there were shrews
Proclaiming themselves fierce, magnificent
Eagle owls. People who
Have never once paddled in the sea
Are suddenly dolphins.
You shot me a cat-glance. This was all
Well and good. You wished I were also
A prowling, silk-like hunting cat.
Whereas I, in honesty, am
Some curious ape: dextrous, not
Overly powerful, but cunning.
Chimpanzees have been observed to torture,
After all, simply for fun.
I examine all sorts of things between my witchy fingers,
Push the conversation back and forth like a
Responsibility, again. I idle in consideration, an
An observing force;
Social in some respects, obtuse, demanding;
If I were an animal, I would be some
Ingenious, malicious primate: I fear I would be