What is the plural of menagerie?

More to the point, who will be the menagerist?

When no one volunteers, I do. I am still guarding the moon, just as I promised I would, keeping track of how and when it smears across our congested skies. In the night the animals would disappear into the fog if the weather would hold still. In the morning the deer emerge from the foliage and stare from the yard into the house where I wait.

In the evening the power goes out, which doesn't make sense (the evening is clear and still) until one of my poet friends says one word: "Squirrels." I trust him: they've ambushed him on the bike trail this fall. He knows how they are suicidal these dark days. I do, too: in the afternoon the squirrel leapt from tree to tree outside the window, finally pausing where the trees stopped. He was so avid. His haunches tensed, twitched; he gathered for the next jump. I remembered the dead squirrel I found on the street last year who had no marks of trauma on him, and how the narrative that grew for me as my eye reached up to the slender branches traced and woven above was that of the squirrel's last leap, his startled fall. (I don't know what happened to this afternoon's squirrel, though I am fairly sure I heard him land on the roof over my head.)

Two nights ago I slept so early that I woke before dawn and did not fall asleep again. A bird started running fifths, short scales, up, up, up, over and over again. Just one bird. And I remembered that I didn't tell you about the pigeons on the auditorium's roof last week, their massed darknesses lighting off into the flex and float of wider greyness, pulling shadows across the stony walls. And how I listened to the morning bird trilling, and how I laughed in my own breath when the roof exhaled the pigeons.

I will always be the menagerist.