Poems of the Week

We’re Leaving

by Claudia Gary

“National Zoo Pandas Leaving D.C. For China—Ending A Program Nixon Started 51 Years Ago”

(With apologies to John Denver)

All our toys are packed, our bamboo too,
we’re standin’ here inside the zoo;
you can’t get in the gates until we’ve gone.
Our diplomatic tour is through;
you’ll sigh for us, and we for you—
or not—but oh, our lives will tumble on.

[REFRAIN] You’ve praised us and feted us,
built us playgrounds, petted us,
televised our privatest of times.
You’ve captured every noise of us,
made foods and clothes and toys of us,
plus hats and mugs that cost a lot of dimes.

They’ve packed us in a Fedex crate
that’s fitting for affairs of State;
we and our cub are feeling tightly wound.
On normal days we ambulate
and ruminate and cogitate,
but this fine day we’re getting off the ground.

[REFRAIN] From Ling-Ling to Xiao Qi Ji,
we’ve enjoyed your company,
keeping you, our visitors, amused,
while keepers and scientists
guided us through storms and mists
till somehow we had cubs. (We’re so confused.)

So many times you watched for us
to jump and run, but that’s not us.
Oh listen, please, it doesn’t mean a thing!
We never did you any harm;
we’re nonchalant and full of charm:
just roll downhill and saunter ’round a ring.

[REFRAIN] You’ve seen us on Panda Cam
in wintertime, our little fam
frolicking and sliding in the snow.
But soon we will be released
to join our cousins in the East
where, at last, we’ll find out what they know.

…We’re leaving on a jet plane.
You know we won’t be back again.
Great bamboo calls; we’re good to go.
We’re good to go!