A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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December 2008, vol 4 no 4

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Francis Masat


Key West Wildlife Center

Dawn: mosquitoes zigzag, still seeking blood. The frogs grow quiet with the end of the nightshift. Café con leche, the call of a Cuban rooster in the brush as palms and mangroves emerge through the gray. Sunrise, through branches, sparkles off a salt pond in bits and pieces of light. Morning dew beads on a spider’s web vibrating with a lone moth. Trading my boots for shoes, my reflexes are too slow for a scorpion.

not a sound –
a crushed wing falls
into a tray

Shredding vegetables, I share a chair with an iguana as a nest of king bird babies arrives in a shoe box. In the wading-bird pond, undulating at my feet, a water snake passes by. A branch with a lizard turns bare as a heron stalks away. As I turn, an osprey rises taking my thoughts with it. A shriek rises from a volunteer transfixed by an anole lizard that has landed on her foot – no one notices the new hibiscus and noni blossoms.

rehab pen –
flapping and running in circles
a one-winged gull

A garden hose leaks another rainbow, a hawk’s keen pierces the air high above the raptor's pen, and a baby rabbit is carried away in old loving hands. In the tropical heat – no breeze arrives with the cicadas – a raccoon and a cockroach lie on their backs; only the raccoon twitches. A tortoise comes looking for carrots and berries, its back covered with blossoms. At the koi pond, my presence is required by a dragonfly. In a sudden shower, the first drops raise dust.

between two boards
an injured pelican
lays her egg

A photographer comes for the release of some cormorants. In a shaded pond, a baby barracuda returns my stare; we are both ignored by mating horseshoe crabs. Tadpoles surface in a rain barrel, pelicans from China sit in a row on our gift shop shelf, and the homeless push their bikes into the mangrove swamps for yet another night. With an evening shower, the trees begin to drip mosquitoes.

the day’s red plastic bag
next to the trash bin

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