Emily Franklin


 Around 1840 it was considered elegant to take a tortoise out
                   walking. This gives us an idea of the tempo of flânerie. 
—Walter Benjamin


In the 1840s elegance was walking 
your tortoise on a leash

My youngest had a pet ant
and then ate it by mistake

After their wedding reception 
my parents found an ocelot 

with a bow around her neck
which was not a metaphor 

as my mother thought but 
actually a gift from my uncle

whom it later tried to maul 
(which is maybe the metaphor)

My husband heard this lore
and wondered where one 

purchases such a gift as though 
the world is hiding from him

Wild animal shops or places 
ants are up for adoption 

Just what leash would fit a tortoise?
When our friend’s tortoise 

ran away (slipped from flower 
bed to God knows where)

our friends cried and my husband 
laughed but then formed 

a search party—sticks and lights 
flickering in the summer woods

Two days later the neighbors 
found their animal three streets away 

and my husband, guilty 
for his laughter, designed 

a tortoise run—suction cup, wire 
The stuff of comic books, 

of futurist antiquities 
The public elegance of 

contained creatures.

Emily Franklin’s work has been published or is forthcoming in The New York Times, The Cincinnati Review, New Ohio Review, Blackbird, The Rumpus, DIAGRAM, Mississippi Review, Lunch Ticket, Passages North, North Dakota Review, Monkeybicycle, Juked, and The Chattahoochee Review among other places as well as featured on National Public Radio, and named notable by the Association of Jewish Libraries.