He’s not the sort of Gryphon that took Alice
to hear the sad story of the Mock Turtle,
not that sort at all, though you might mistake him
for the same if you saw him reading
sleepy-eyed in a comfortable chair.
No, this one’s speech is cultured,
befitting his university background
teaching interns and residents
on the finer points of medical science.
He has never spoken to me of a mate,
though it is well known that
Gryphons mate for life and that,
if something happens to one of them,
the other remains faithful even in death.
And he has never discussed with me
how long a Gryphon might expect to live,
though he makes reference to selling his condo
and organizing his possessions, which are probably few
except for shelves and shelves of books
which have been accumulating since the middle ages.
He gave up flying years ago,
says that it gives him vertigo
so now he takes the bus or walks
but not if it’s too cold outside.
"Anyway," he says,
"I just don’t trust that my feathers
would stay attached to these old wings.”
Ask him a question and he will answer with a poem,
always a poem about food;
mushrooms, broccoli, kale, artichokes,
lobsters doing a quadrille or crabs,
anything that goes well with boats of melted butter.
I tell him (with good humor) that poems about food
are really poems about sex.
He straightens in his chair, shakes out his lion’s mane,
slowly blinks his eagle eyes,
opens his beak as if to speak,
says nothing but smiles at me
as if he were a Sphinx.