23 Pandas

There is something inherently sad

in the image of 23 pandas being held

by 23 Asians wearing 23 identical blue

johnnies and 23 identical blue breathing masks.


Held for a photograph.

Set on a green felt stage.

Six inches off the grass.

Pink Chinese letters in the background.


Maybe they spell out “Happy Birthdays.”

Maybe all 23 of those pandas share the same birthday.

A small miracle for a dying species.

All being made to face the same camera.


Not a single panda is sitting still in the arms

of those 23 Asians.  23 pandas as restless as my leg

in the dead of night. I think they must know something

my leg knows but isn’t sharing.


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