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Post Road Magazine #34

IT BROKE THE SURFACE

McKinley Murphy


My father wants to meet at the zoo
although we are not children anymore, even
my youngest brother is sixteen, growing a mustache.
He’d rather be at home with his video games—
but we can pretend.

Really there’s something simple and joyful
in seeing these creatures: cheetah, puma
devouring a white meat carcass—what isthat? 
Maybe a turkey?—far below
the concrete barrier wall.

We came to see my father
as much as we came for the polar bear,
which was found abandoned in Alaska—
Has he seen Denali? I wonder—
No, that’s nowhere near where the bears live,
and anyway, the bears don’t care about the mountain,
my name, or my feelings on the subject.

And the new environment is a faux-landscape,
a habitat of refrigerated rooms, outdoor pools
where the bear swims in laps, right next to the glass
again and again in circles

inches from us, paws the size of my head.
His own head breaks the surface.  His eyes red.
We are silent.  When we turn away,
my brother says, quietly: that was spiritual.
 



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