Well, of course he could fly, so he should be some gargantuan super mammal!
She says this with a laugh (which had heretofore alternated
Between genteel tittering and an almost coquettish chuckle)
Which borders upon outright chortling.
We are drinking at a hotel in this northernmost of Southern cities
Which is just upscale enough to have a bar,
All dark-wood paneling and deep green carpeting
Giving it the look of your aunt and uncle’s finished basement.
She is Soviet born, a child of the beetle-browed Breshnev’s era,
Growing up in the Bolshevized Sverdlovsk,
Her childhood home within walking distance of the building
Where the doomed, reluctant Tsar and his equally unfortunate retinue
Received the roughshod justice of the Ural Executive Committee.
She is spending a sabbatical semester at a nearby university,
And has spent the past few weeks meandering through the Midwest,
During which time she has developed a fondness
(Which she freely admits is bordering on mania)
For all things Americana: county fairs, the ubiquitous Elm and Maple Streets,
And, paradoxically, old episodes of Rocky and Bullwinkle.
For the past twenty minutes or so, she has held forth on Jay Ward’s creations,
How he tweaked those on both sides of the Iron Curtain,
And the impossible physical dimensions of all involved,
Be it the compact Boris, Amazonian Natasha, or the title squirrel himself.
Rocky must have been three, perhaps four feet tall,
She all but guffaws, Why, that would make him a creation of the secret labs
The KGB maintained-think of it, world domination through tree dwellers!
She has, in the course of her monologue, inched ever closer to my bar stool,
So much so that her knee is, just perceptibly, touching the outside of my thigh,
My body language apparently registering some surprise mixed with reticence
(I have been in this city several weeks on business,
And have acquired nothing more than a marked distaste
For its cinnamon-and-spaghetti adorned chili),
And her voice returns to its previous playful softness.
You have nothing to fear from me, Comrade, she all but purrs,
After all, I am a close confidante of moose and squirrel.