The Song of the Hyrax: An Open Letter to Zoology

by Claire Stringer

So maybe we do resemble prairie dogs
and trill with the falsetto of an opera
of wood warblers. But to suggest
that our highly evolved syntax
means nothing! Well, that would belittle the race
of the most sophisticated Hyrax.

Now we will present our song, if you will
excuse us, while we clear our throats.
Ka-ka-ka-ka-ka! Glar-glar-gargle-ah!
Perhaps you have heard these sounds before?
And miscalculated our honey-sweet tones
for unintelligible bird gargles?

Yes, we are but humble creatures, crooning
all day long, our bellies warmed
by desert rocks and sun-soaked tabletops.
We lope like bunny rabbits, weighed down
by our elephantine feet and deep roots —
our tiny tusks hark back to the mammoth.

But do not be fooled by our modest guise:
we craft our lyrics with the tact of a cartographer.
Our history dwells in our dark, shiny eyes.

And what’s a song when there is no one to listen?
If you come up close to bask in our artful poetry,
you may find that we smell like morning dew
and our molasses melodies might stir the song in you.

Claire Stringer fell in love with hyraxes last spring and hopes to hear their call in real life one day. She thinks that if you watch this video and look at this photo, you’ll feel very similarly.