Shout-outs to three valued readers:

1. Anya von Bremzen, for her observation that the spectral tarsier basically just is Cheburashka.

02-08SpectacledTarsierBIG ceburaska


2. Carolyn Drake, for more amazing pictures from her Kars trip, which coincided, somewhat-luckily for posterity, with an illegal bear shooting at a garbage dump in Sarıkamış:



3. Bernard Schwartz of the Unterberg Poetry Center, for sending along “Loving a Saint” by Sarah Lindsay – he was reminded of this beautiful poem while reading my article about Kars:


When orphaned baby raccoons swarmed into his sleeves
she knew she loved him;
when they stole her earrings and washed the checkbook
and left buttered pawprints all over the house
she marveled at his patience.
Knowing his place would be crowded,
since his benign door would shut nothing out,
she followed him home—
how not to crave the light of his eyes,
the presence of one who honored all creatures?
Who made no distinction between her yappy dachshund
and his pound dog stinking with cancer,
or a mangy murderous quivering stray,
or the fleas on his arms, or the fleas on her legs,
or the slugs that brightened the doorstep every morning?
She already knew the neighborhood cats
abandoned the hunt to follow him,
but hadn’t foreseen the jumping spiders,
the woodpeckers knocking on the window frames,
the millipedes in bed, the worms in his pockets.

Later she came to see that the shine in his gaze
when it rested on her
was the same as when he looked at day-old chicks
or a nervous skunk.
She had thought she was good at sharing.
She found herself niggling away at questions
like why he addressed a rotifer as “brother”
but looked down her swollen throat and said “Sister Strep.”
She developed a fondness for rocks, and felt
nostalgia for slapping mosquitoes. Then
he’d fondly pat his belly, and hers, after breakfast
and thank their digestive bacteria,
and she’d melt.

Tonight while he’s outside
giving their lentil loaf to some deer,
she gropes in the pouch of her kangaroo heart
for perfect love that casteth out resentment,
hunger of various kinds, and fear
of the three-legged alligator, tired apparently
of dragging its belly around the house
but watching her from the corner,
fear of the long dry rustle she heard in the wall before dawn
when the mice were asleep.
She wakes in the night, or dreams she does,
sees two eyes with a moon-cool gleam,
and more than anything wants to know whose they are.

That’s all for now, as I am currently hard at work trying to love the rhinovirus I picked up last week at the Frankfurt Book Fair – about which giant petri dish, more very soon!

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6 Responses to “ANIMAL PLANET”

  1. Russian Dinosaur Says:

    Ah, but show me the spectral tarsier that ever turned up at the bottom of a box of oranges. Unconvinced!

  2. Semih Says:

    Could you please send me a msg if you don’t mind? I just have an idea re an article which I believe you can tackle better than anyone else.

  3. Josefina Says:

    Hi there Elif! I just sent you a mail (had some trouble figuring out how to do that so maybe you’ll never get it because I couldn’t get your address right) with which I submitted a google translate of the Swedish article I published on Saturday October 22nd in The Gothenburg Post about how much I was inspired, touched, and stimulated by your book The Possessed! You are awesome :) I know it is not a supersmart thing to say, but hey, someone’s got to say it.

  4. Christoher Mandros (Chris) Says:

    I may have had 2 of my best times reading your soccer and wildlife pieces in the New Yorker. The eco-poem is well worth sharing. I will not rest ’til I hunt down and devour your book (w/ a Roz Chast cover no less!) and any other random Batumania I can find. What can I say? Words fail me…may yours always flow.

  5. Christoher Mandros (Chris) Says:

    I’m going back to yr homepage for more…

  6. Zişan Anter Says:

    A friend of mind handed me your article about a “Beşiktaş Soccer Game” experience . Then I read another article from you about Kars. They both are touching, funny and honest. I discovered that your writings created a new need that I may search for and try to read everything you write from now on. And that is a promise.

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