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The Real Thing.

<i>Palo Verde National Park, Costa Rica</i>

In a boat skimming past red and black
mangroves, close-packed, leaning
over the brackish Rio Tempisque,
where crocodiles swim, the scales
down the middle of their backs
breaking the water's murky surface
like chains of floating rocks, I think
of the Jungle Cruise in Disneyland,
my father beside me when I was eight.
When the fake crocodile opened
its jaws, he said, "How would you like
to see the real thing?" I said I would
and meant it but knew I'd never go
with him. He feared planes, boats
and the depth of rivers, but now
I'm looking into the eyes of a live
crocodile in a jungle river: pale
green marbles, the pupils vertical
black slits. The crocodile regards me
with no apparent interest while herons
dip for fish, iguanas bask on branches
overhead, and roseate spoonbills
splash the sky with pink. Howler
monkeys stay high in the trees, but
white-faced capuchins crowd around
the boat when we stop. One climbs on
the roof. Another poops from a limb
a few feet away. It hits the water
with a splash. Daddy, who put
so many ideas in my head, I hope
you're looking down from heaven
at this monkey relieving itself
beside me, then popping a big black
spider into its mouth: it's the real thing.
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Author:Day, Lucille Lang; Day, Lucille
Publication:Atlanta Review
Article Type:Poem
Date:Sep 22, 2010
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