Theodore Roethke





For an Amorous Lady
Most mammals like caresses, in the sense in which
we usually take the word, whereas other creatures,
even tame snakes, prefer giving to receiving them.
-- From a Natural-History Book

The pensive gnu, the staid aardvark,
Accept caresses in the dark;
The bear, equipped with paw and snout;
Would rather take than dish it out.
But snakes, both poisonous and garter,
In love are never known to barter;
The worm, though dank, is sensitive:
His noble nature bids him give.

But you, my dearest, have a soul
Encompassing fish, flesh, and fowl.
When amorous arts we would pursue,
You can, with pleasure, bill or coo.
You are, in truth, one in a million,
At once mammalian and reptilian.


spoken = Heather C. Liston