(A performance piece for a(n ideally French) female with musical accompaniment)
In the valley in which I live there is a zoo;
It is beautiful, but difficult to find.
It is far from any large road
And the signs that advertise its presence are poorly situated.
The zoo is small, but well stocked
The feeding of its inhabitants,
Particularly its carnivores, is expensive.
I learned of the financial challenges during one of my many visits.
I was one of the few visitors
And, after a time, I got to know the owner, a tall man called Didier.
We were roughly the same age and both single people,
But we did not become lovers
As he was preoccupied with money problems
And I found him physically repellent
(I have never been fond of tall people).
One day I noticed that next to the animals' names on the descriptive labels
There was a price tag:
20 euros for a Dwarf Goat
15 for a plum-headed parakeet
200 for a yak
5 for a Malaysian Giant Land Snail
And so on
I was immediately concerned that someone would buy the animals
And deprive me of their company
So I bought what I could;
I bought the aforementioned
And a Wild Pig.
Having nowhere to put the animals I was obliged to leave them there.
I continued to buy animals during ensuing visits,
Gradually selling off my extensive collection of 18th century chinoiserie,
Until I had bought all the zoo's residents -
Even a Giraffe, whose extreme height I found particularly unappealing.
At first Didier was delighted
He suddenly found himself with money, he bought himself a small and sporty car,
Though he rarely drove it as it could not carry bales of hay or buckets of offal.
To feed the many animals, none of which were now his, he continued to use his van
In which he would roar up and down the valley
Even though his business was saved and he had a sporty car
Didier resented the fact that the animals were no longer his,
The animals seemed to sense this, even the Ostrich,
That tall and dim-witted bird.
The creatures would gather around when I neared their enclosures;
When Didier approached they shied away
As if they knew he had betrayed them.
It didn't help that I had taught the assorted parrots and macaws to say “Hello Odile” -
For my name is Odile.
I would take them titbits,
Choice collations I would create at home
Much preferable to hay and offal.
This proved to be the last straw for Didier
Who said I was making the animals' diet unbalanced
And barred me from visiting the zoo
Despite my being the establishment's only season ticket holder.
I countered his action by standing on some high ground upwind of the zoo
And raising my arms in order to better disseminate
A heavy perfume, “Dolce Vita” by Dior, that I habitually wear
And that the animals associated with treats.
As soon as they detected my scent
The zoo's inmates grew restless
The lion growled -
And roared -
The Hyenas cackled -
The elephant trumpeted -
And so on.
Eventually, as a consequence of the cacophony,
Didier was obliged to lift the ban.
To tell the truth I felt a little sorry for him
He was looking stooped, shorter... more attractive...
As a gesture of reconciliation
I taught the Mynah bird to say, “Hello Didier”.
Didier seemed touched by this and we have since become closer.
In the afternoons, after Didier has finished his rounds,
We sometimes stroll through the zoo together.
There is rarely anyone else around,
But we never feel alone
What with all the “Hello Odile”s and the “Hello Didier”,
And the roar of the lion
And the cackling of the hyenas
And the trumpeting of the elephant