I Favor Three-Toed Sloths

for Theodore Roethke

by Richard Peake

VOLCANO watching, ungainly two-toed sloth
fell out of a scenic too-slender tree,
broke limbs, narrowly missing me—
clambered, slipperied back up with baleful wroth.
 
Clumsy two-toed, too-inquisitive sloths—
less careful how they climb and doze
than clever species with three toes—
should try pledging visitors troth.
 
Canny three-toed sloths know slow
moving. You might deem them smug
as they give branches a hug,
ex-as-per-at-ing-ly slow they move from high to low.
 
You jump and yell and try to wake them
but deep in sleep slowly they go
swaying in the breeze by their three toes
unheedful of your stratagems—
 
they blink—you know they know they know.
 
                                   

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