Tears cascade down my face
I watch the news of children and animals escaping the violence in the Ukraine
Screams of terror erupt from the various cities
People flee the onslaught of bombs and tanks
The zoo in Kyiv is filled with sounds of
Lines of tanks roll forward, crushing flesh and flora
The smell of blood and decay is everywhere
The animals recognize the scent
I cry out to the Ukrainian people on my screen, ½ a world away…
Hide! Don’t let them see the children
Hide! Don’t let them see the animals
Gunshots ring off the zoo’s buildings as zookeeers and their families care for their charges.
A hand, soft as an angel’s kiss, calms a wild-eyed adult elephant
You are safe, the zookeeper coos, and the beast believes it
Why is the Evil One bearing down on what is not his?
The blue and yellow will not surrender
Is this the beginning of World War Three?
Memories of hiding beneath my desk during a nuclear attack drill flood my mind
Will anyone be alive when morning comes
Will the images that play across my screen soon play across my country?
If the heavens erupt into fire, will the Great Spirit hear our cries and weep
a waterfall of rainbow tears
I must get air
Outside, I raise my hands to the stars and beg all of heaven for mercy
Mercy for the children
Mercy for the animals
Mercy for the selfless zookeepers
A deafening silence fills my ears
The only tears I feel are my own
I drop my head in defeat, to see an errant sunflower seed sprouting next to my foot
Sue Cook lives in Freeport, Illinois with her husband Randy and two dogs. Her passions include assistance dogs, rescue dogs, music, acting, theater, poetry, and Doctor Who. She’s been in both film and theater and is a regular cast member of the podcast Doctor Who’s Line is it….Anyway? Sue is an advocate for the use of Service Dogs to assist their disabled handlers to maintain their independence. Quigley’s Quest, her first children’s book, addresses how a dog becomes a Service Dog.