Alipore Zoo

by Soumyaroop Majumdar

Always the big cat enclosure first,
their moans swelling the bell curves
of our brags. Tigers – drugged of course
stretched out on rocks across a moat:

meagre Lakshman rekha for
the two drunks with garlands, short work.
The pong of spoonbills, whisked by scamper.
A cockatoo on the mesh wiring

climbing beak-and-claw. Between
the drying wings of ibises
and Shah Rukh’s open arms the bubbling
of a meme, and surely some usurper

now where the litigon would strain,
on his hind legs, towards the roof.
Other days, caught in the snarl of school
rush hour, a few minutes on the bridge,

a glimpse of the elephants and, once,
not too long ago, in a cage
a stone’s throw from the gurdwara
at the Rashbehari crossing,

a sloth bear; backdrop of boxing ring
and soaped-up bathers at a public
tube well, he’d sit dribbling
fruit pap, accustomed to intrigue.