Creature Comforts
by Betsy Mars

If I could talk to the animals
I’d gather creatures all around me;
carrying them catlike in my mouth
softly communicating
through touch, telepathy, or teeth—

Or birdlike, feather my arms with amethyst
and join the formation with wings,
strung out v-shaped.
We’d band together safely,
each in our proper place, flying but not in flight.

I’d blow the top off my head and spout
my presence high into the air, grow gills
and breathe underwater … and slowly …
I’d practice bubble communication
and learn to whistle beyond human earshot.

On soft cat feet, my telltale tail swishing
and back arched, I’d raise my hackles
to warn predators and rivals
to keep their distance.
In a low growl, my throat would rumble my displeasure.

In a dog-eat-dog ass-sniffing world
my every inhale would be endlessly informative,
odors wafting through my synapses
triggering unarticulated volumes
received in a few twitches of a nose.

If I could talk to the animals
I could rest easy knowing that the Great Pink Sea Snail
would not be a-salted and the Pushmi-pullyu,
like me, would finally find its direction.
My kingdom would have no bounds.

PHOTO: Author at a young age in the habit of practicing her communication skills on a rabbit.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have always been drawn to animals. I think “Let sleeping dogs lie” was one of the first idioms I learned, except that my parents meant it literally as I was always approaching strange dogs. My favorite TV shows were Lassie, Flipper, and Mr. Ed. I was entranced by Doctor Doolittle despite what a misogynist Rex Harrison turned out to be. I was very nearsighted and was convinced I would one day go blind. The only consolation was that I would qualify for a seeing-eye dog. I developed a passion for Labrador Retrievers, and that was in fact the first dog I got as an adult. I have never gotten over my suspicion that I have a special bond with animals and that they secretly understand what I am saying and just choose to ignore it (sometimes). I am obsessed with the videos of interspecies friendships and believe the world would be a happier place if we could just be more like the animals.

Mars (2)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Betsy Mars is a Connecticut-born, mostly Southern California raised poet, mother, and animal lover with a severe case of travel fever. Having spent part of her childhood abroad, she has always had an interest in language and its nuances. Her work has been published in two editions of A Poet is a Poet No Matter How Tall, Then & Now (Sadie Press), and by Silver Birch Press.

PHOTO: Author in a post-ride conference with her trusty steed.