The Zoo at Night

The last toddler's howls evanesce like ash
on a breeze, the parking lot empties of cars.
A purple shock of cotton candy rots

to syrup in the otter pond. The net
above the eagle melts against the dark,
and the cobra's artificial Egypt

of Plexiglas, reflecting no flashbulbs
or school groups, resolves to air.
He sways up from the dust like a drunken root.

Will each animal, its cell erased, now dream
it is free and make its true noise, like a killer
confessing in his sleep? I stop my jog

and kneel at the ivy-spidered fence to listen.
Strange groans I can't place: a rhinoceros
with the flu? Wolves in transport? No, my own breath

escaping its cage, then rushing back in.