Although Fred Lape’s poetry often links the human and the natural worlds, “Central Park Zoo” offers us a humorous and satirical view of that connection. The poem is delightfully gossipy in tone, filled with brilliant color and replete with some quite wonderful verbal puns.
silly old bird with blue wing feathers,
fire red breast and an orange body,
a jet black beak and a gear shot voice.
Eugenia Dolphin of Dallas Texas
is spending the winter months at the Plaza.
Sixty, but thinks of herself as thirty :
a dark of the eyes and a red of the nails,
a sky blue coat and fire red slippers
and a little black hat from Bonwit Teller's
cocked like a crest over bangs of henna.
Pert old bird with the gaudy feathers
down on her belly flat in the basin
fluffing her wings and ducking her head
trickling the water over her shoulders.
Mrs. Eugenia wanders shopping, and rain
has left its pool at the curbstone
and there in the puddle after the shower
is Mrs. Eugenia's bright reflection
flat on its belly over the water.
Fluffing her wings and scattering water
(the bird) and my dear what a beautiful sapphire
and do you think I should buy it really
dipping her head and squawking with pleasure,
but it wasn't the puddle along Fifth Avenue
that Mrs. Eugenia tried to wash herself in,
it was only the bathroom bowl at the Plaza
(guilt complex maybe) my dear it's awful
with a squawk and a flirt of the feathers
and now the breast and now the buttocks
(that of course has to be Mrs. Eugenia)
and then a preen of the tail and a chortle
and I said it's only a thousand dollars
and if I want it I'm going to have it
and don't we have a good time in our puddle?
by Fred Lape