The Woman At The Washington Zoo
The saris go by me from the embassies.
Cloth from the moon. Cloth from another planet.
They look back at the leopard like the leopard.
And I. . . .
this print of mine, that has kept its color
Alive through so many cleanings; this dull null
Navy I wear to work, and wear from work, and so
To my bed, so to my grave, with no
Complaints, no comment: neither from my chief,
The Deputy Chief Assistant, nor his chief--
Only I complain. . . . this serviceable
Body that no sunlight dyes, no hand suffuses
But, dome-shadowed, withering among columns,
Wavy beneath fountains--small, far-off, shining
In the eyes of animals, these beings trapped
As I am trapped but not, themselves, the trap,
Aging, but without knowledge of their age,
Kept safe here, knowing not of death, for death--
Oh, bars of my own body, open, open!
The world goes by my cage and never sees me.
And there come not to me, as come to these,
The wild beasts, sparrows pecking the llamas' grain,
Pigeons settling on the bears' bread, buzzards
Tearing the meat the flies have clouded. . . .
When you come for the white rat that the foxes left,
Take off the red helmet of your head, the black
Wings that have shadowed me, and step to me as man:
The wild brother at whose feet the white wolves fawn,
To whose hand of power the great lioness
Stalks, purring. . . .
You know what I was,
You see what I am: change me, change me!
Randall Jarrell's Other Poems
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (The Woman At The Washington Zoo by Randall Jarrell )
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(27 October 1914 – 9 November 1953)
(August 8, 1884 – January 29, 1933)
- Invictus, William Ernest Henley
- Dreams, Langston Hughes
- A Child's Christmas in Wales, Dylan Thomas
- Human Family, Maya Angelou
- Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Dylan Thomas
- Death is Nothing at All, Henry Scott Holland
- No Man Is An Island, John Donne
- Annabel Lee, Edgar Allan Poe
- If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
- Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep, Mary Elizabeth Frye
Poem of the Day
- Daughter of Eve, ramesh rai
- Schmacebook, Esther Moe
- Excuses, Michelle Dragonfly
- They Say, Michelle Dragonfly
- someone asked me why i have so many jars.., Mandolyn ...
- Not A Fairytale, Apolynn Lagaras
- let's worship nothing, forever, Mandolyn ...
- Keep Patience and Stand, Kumarmani Mahakul
- Nothing Seems Right, Andrew Butler
- Seventeen Thoughts, A Lifetime, Kewayne Wadley