The Indifferent Beast
by Murray Ewing
They had an Indifferent Beast at the zoo
It was furry and spiny and somewhat scaly, too
It sat, most days, in the corner of its cage
Not moving much nor making noise. It really was quite strange.
The sign which should have said what type of beast it was
Had long since disappeared, and was never replaced because
The keepers and the caretakers and the guides couldn’t recall
What its species, family, genus, or its nickname was at all
They fed it following directions from a card pinned to its door
That were so smudged and faded it was really quite a chore
To read what was written there, and besides, its keepers found
They’d each been feeding it different things, but it seemed to be quite sound
In winter, the beast turned white; in summer it often moulted;
In autumn it collected fallen leaves; in spring it couldn’t be faulted
In the cleaning of its fur and spines and scales, from early till late,
Till its keepers began to wonder if it was hoping for a mate
But how to find a mate for the mysterious Indifferent Beast?
They tried the International Zoos, and experts in the East,
They tried far-famed explorers just returned from expeditions
But none could match it with a mate of quite the same description
They realised that anyway they couldn’t be sure of its sex
The vet they brought in didn’t know which end she should inspect
“It seems to have a trunk or tail at both, and no other signs!”
So it was “Sorry old chap, next year perhaps.” The beast looked quite resigned.
So they gave it squeaky toys and balls and swings and lego sets
It built a little model zoo and stocked it with insects
Its favourite was an odd old bug no-one could identify
And the Indifferent Beast kept the Indifferent Bug till the day that both of them died.