we watched a giraffe fall five feet into the world.
bleating and blinking,
shivering with cold –
a harsh reality breaking.
“they rarely lie down,” you murmured,
breath fluttering against the conched curves of my ears.
you told me giraffes sleep on their hooves –
and even then, only for two hours.
cowed by their strength, i pondered a life on my feet;
calves burning, heels blistering, back bent forward with cramps.
after ten minutes, the newborn –
fresh faced and spot painted –
plucked hooves from thick tumbleweeds
and ran with the herd
head high, muscles rippling
as if not just thrust from the womb.
“i wonder,” you whispered,
soft fingers trailing the gooseflesh of my skin,
“what it says about humans that animals learn on the run.”
i pondered this
while watching tall shapes turn to silhouettes
in the sunset.
“it means,” i smiled, turning to face you,
“we know less about animals than we think.”
—copyright Elizabeth Mathis, December 2014—