A Name for a Tapir



In the wild, the tapir’s diet consists
of fruit and tender growth
tapirs are young leaf-eaters
snuffling greens up and in to
the prehensile snout

except in 1998 in a zoo in Oklahoma
a keeper opened the tapir feeding door
a two-foot-wide panel on a slide
to push in a dish of food and by the arm
she was hauled through the two-foot door
into an enclosure, the Tapir Habitat
the sign outside read that these animals are
inoffensive, retiring and shy

the tapir went to town
hard hooves and proboscis raised
to reveal a herbivore’s broad teeth
with which it took an arm clean off

the zoo director’s name was Wylie
like the Coyote and that is a fact
he said the animals do this in nature too
like he hadn’t read the sign

loose tapirs run and drown themselves
or rather, hold their breath
in the waters that make a half of their home
they hold their breath until the threat is gone

Wylie’s answer, under lights and
sweating through his nylons
Unfortunately, Lisa the zookeeper probably knows the answers
But we haven’t been able to speak with her
directly because she was in surgery
arm failing, despite efforts, to attach

the tapir’s name was Melody
she had a calf
a child, striped like a watermelon
Wylie described Melody after
as still quite agitated


About the author

Hollen Pockets has been published in print and on the information superhighway and in one book of spells. Talk to them about tapirs @faceoddity

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