The Unicorn at the Zoo
They put it among trees and rose bushes,
ringed a dry moat with an iron fence.
They’re still not sure if it’s
male or female; the ultrasound
goes to static and freezes every time.
They tried to test its blood,
but the silver serum in the tube
swirled and shimmered into nothing.
They held a contest to name it anyway,
and a third-grader won with Moonflower.
Tourists gather at its enclosure with
strollers and cameras,
whinny at it like a horse,
hold their children up to see.
In their snapshots, it is only
a vague white blur, a bit
of pearly horn here, a hint
of cloven hoof there.
The gift shop has no postcards of it,
but the plush horned ponies sell out every week.
The keepers aren’t sure what it eats.
Some say the flowers, but they’re untouched.
Some say water, some say air.
Some say love, but they’re laughed at
by people who feel guilty for it afterward.
The keepers hold somber meetings
with scholars and art historians.
Every day they worry it seems a bit thinner,
its coat a touch paler, more translucent.
The words on the sign at its enclosure
are starting to fade.
Sometimes the zoo director stands
before it in his three-piece suit,
slow tears tracing the lines of his face.
Some say he’s only thinking about
the money he might lose.
Others aren’t so sure.
-Renee Carter Hall