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that there’s nothing in there worth seeing. Whatever this tank belongs to is probably asleep, like the flamingoes. But he keeps staring into the water, even as I make to leave down the path, further into the zoo. " Abbot pinches out his cigarette and drops it on the path between his bare feet. Look, Pamela. ! The great white head of polar bear enters my field of vision and immediately I’m back at Abbot’s side, my hands beside his on the glass. All at once we can see the whole thing. It seems too big, bulky, to swim with such ease. Animals of their size should believe in gravity. " From the opposite side another white bear clouds into the water, sinking slowly while hundreds of tiny air bubbles rise to the surface from his toothy wet grin. ! They’re dancing, Abbot! I’m excited to see the polar bears in action. The legs of the smaller move lightly against the blue patterned floor of the tank, treading water, while his forearms keep in constant circular motion like a juggler. ! In my peripheral vision I can see Abbot moving away from the tank and my side. He looks around the polar bear pavilion quickly before he spots what he’s been looking for. Abbot reaches up and grabs a white courtesy phone from where it hangs under an awning on one of the out buildings. I return my gaze to the bears and then back again to Abbot. He’s dialing a number, looking back over at me. Uh huh. By the bears—the polar bears. Just another hour, I promise. His right hand holds the telephone to his ear while the left rakes through his dark hair over and over again. Ok, thanks. Thanks Charlie. Confused now, I stare at him. " My friend. The security guard he says, answering my question before I can ask it. And then, all around us a soft crackle of white noise fizzles up. I look into the trees surrounding us, trying to locate the source of the sound. Abbot smiles, and crosses the pavilion from where he stood on the phone. His bare feet thud softly on the stone. Pamela, he says, raising his right hand toward me, may I have this dance? And then the speakers on poles all around the park boom into life and a long slow waltz fills the dark and empty night around us. " I shut my eyes and I can feel my throat vibrating with laughter, low and slow at first and then high and wild as he begins to move me in time with the music. Chopin, he shouts as he pulls me closely toward his hips. He shouts it like a secret. Through the thin material of his shirt, my hand on his shoulder, I can feel the heat between us passing back and forth. " The music rises and rises in shimmering waves all around us and we reach a dizzying speed. We caterwaul around the empty viewing pavilion and he spins me. I wish I were wearing a skirt a little less tight. I want great swaths of fabric to move just a step behind

me, swinging as my feet fall on the hard cold stones. Instead, my bare legs jut out smooth and athletic from beneath thin fabric stretched taut across my thighs. " His laughter joins mine, and they complement each other in a subtle two-part harmony. His hand is on the small of my back and he leads me and directs me quickly from corner to corner as we spin about. His hand is a rudder and my hair sails open in the wind while the lights of the night sky help us to navigate. ! Our laughter in combination with the music being pumped through the zoo public address rouses the sleeping animals and stirs to action those that are already awake, their red eyes glowing in the night. Thunderous flapping of wings fills the air as flocks of birds lift from their perches in the nearby aviary. They swarm about for a moment crossing paths, testing limits, assuring themselves that there is no escape from the rising sound all around them, the netted ceiling above them. " From the cages by the entrance the big cats purr deep and sonorously, beautifully in time with the waltz. Two peacocks enter the pavilion, their blue and green plumage following just behind them. They move quickly and let out disgusting screams, their voices a contrast to their bodies. I think of the flamingoes in their pond, standing stock still on knobby legs. How they must envy us. " The waltz wears on and on, rising in speed and volume as the choir of animals joins the orchestra. The primal voices of the jungle, the plains, the calls of the skies and the cries of the forests fill the night and I am thankful that the zoo is far from the city, that no neighborhoods abut the high stone walls. " The trumpet of an elephant answers the call of a wolf. " Squirrels chirrup aloud, holding their paws to their mouths. " Hooves stomp. " A roar. " The music rises until it cannot anymore, until the end is in sight. Abbot spins me around the pavilion until everything around us is a blur. The centripetal force of our movement creates its own gravity and our arms fling out and my hair in the wind and his in his eyes until it ends. " Until the speakers return to a crackling white noise, and then nothing but the calls of the peacocks, the heavy deep purring of the cats, and the barking of the dingoes. " Behind us, the polar bears dance on, unfazed by the cessation of the music and our heavy panting as Abbot and I fall to the ground, struggling to catch our breath in the aftermath.

Profile for Burner Magazine

Burner Magazine: The MUSIC Issue  

On March 1, 2011, Burner Magazine is excited to unveil Burner 03: The Music Issue, with editorials and features of Yoko Ono, Saul Williams,...

Burner Magazine: The MUSIC Issue  

On March 1, 2011, Burner Magazine is excited to unveil Burner 03: The Music Issue, with editorials and features of Yoko Ono, Saul Williams,...

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