The Animals I Am



animal shadows


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

Accept responsibility,

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

Terribly human.


One thought on “The Animals I Am

  1. Great fun poem. I often play this game in a safe family setting. Last week infact. And see where it takes you. Love from Gran

    Sent from my iPad


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