By JC Reilly
In Which My Pet Dino Visits the Zoo
First of all, the fact that the entrance gate bears a sign that says “No animals allowed” strikes me as ironic. When I ask the ticket clerk about this, she clarifies that only service animals may come in. I say, “Do you want to explain that to TR, or should I?” TR pushes his snout into her window, dripping saliva from his death bananas (a.k.a. fangs), and she stutters, “N-n-no, you two go on ahead.” TR and I stroll from the Meerkat exhibit to the Duikers to the Gorilla Habitat, and TR thumps his tail when a silverback gorilla beats his chest. I know what TR is thinking—he wants to join that gorilla and play “chase.” Which means he wants a snack. I drag TR along to a hotdog stand (and he eats everything, including the cart), and then we go visit his relatives in the Hall of Reptiles. He and Luther, the Komodo dragon, stick their tongues out at each other in greeting, then sit down to discuss family drama involving a Florida gator and a Galápagos tortoise. That’s when I tune out. I don’t care to eavesdrop about inter-species romance.
In Which My Pet Dino Becomes a Poet
Like every teenager, TR broods and pines and sighs. Which makes him a poet, clearly. In his windy grotto, behind sunken willows, where he wanders when the world is too much with him, TR withdraws his notebook and pen and begins to write of his pain, of his fears. But dinosaurs are not known for elegance, or in fact, for language. When he shows me his work, I interpret the scratch marks on the pages: Woodland squirrel, good for eating./Pull the trees down at their roots./See the little bird is tweeting./T-rex is the king of brutes! He knocks me across the copse with his tail. That is not what I meant, at all, he seems to say. (Perhaps his oeuvre is more confessional?) I apologize, still in heap, and examine the page again: My heart weighs 83 pounds,/one pound for all the ways you’ve trashed it./See how it shatters on the ground./You took it for a spin then crashed it. He bobs his boulder head: this time I’ve got it right. Sylvia Plath ain’t got nothing on my boy, I think.
a dream in feathers, in scales.
Summer warms wan blood.
In Which My Pet Dino Takes Piano Lessons
Never mind he only has three claws on each hand which limits his chord range, TR is a natural. He practices his C♯min scales till Mrs. Wilson pats him on his tail and says, “That’s enough, dear.” Then TR bangs out the opening bars to Moonlight Sonata, his fingers curving over the keys in perfect arc. Sure, he doesn’t play it “sempre piannisimo e senza sordini”—when you can bench press 430 pounds, you’re bound to approach the piece a little heavy-clawed—but his arpeggios are flawless, at least in the first movement. When the hour is up, Mrs. Wilson gives TR homework—“Work on the Allegretto! Practice your D♭ scales, young man! Only good dinos can play at the Spring Recital, you know.” She covers her ears when TR roars in protest (well, scherzos are difficult for him, and no one has dared call him a “good dino” in almost four years), but she is resolute. I promise that TR will be ready for his lesson next week. He pouts all the way home, listening to Dashboard Confessional and Panic! At the Disco, neither of whom can out-emo Beethoven when it comes to broody.
JC Reilly writes across genres and has received Wigleaf and Pushcart nominations for her work. She serves as the Managing Editor of Atlanta Review, and has work published or forthcoming from POEM, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Southern Women’s Review, borrowed solace, Amaryllis, Edify Fiction, and Picaroon Poetry. Follow her @aishatonu.