All the animals from the antediluvian menagerie had been unloaded from their wagons and instructed to wait upon the approaches to the bridge until their unladen train had passed across it. I came across them belatedly and unexpectedly, les lions, les singes, les chameaux, les girafes, les ours, les éléphants, sitting patiently like miniatures in rows along the enormous stone blocks that lined, at right angles, the gate to that stupendous crossing. Beyond was only shadow and darkness, the swirls of colourless smoke that rose from an unutterable abyss I could not see. Nor was there any bridge in sight and so I concluded it was either illusory or, more likely, existential; and, as is my wont, went looking for documentary evidence. My researches lead me to bins of books and pamphlets laid out upon trestle tables in some flea-market I did not recognise; and there, flicking through soft-covered ephemerals, I found one that described the nature and extent of the Kings Cross zoo : Sydney not London, then not now. But as I reached for it, it faded from my grasp and instead of a digest of the ancient zoo’s attractions I held in my hand nothing : the nothing of the bridge to the beyond perhaps, or the nothing of desire; the nothings of what has or will be. And yet there was music, such as might come from some old-fangled calliope; or from under a baldachin covering a circus wagon; or herald the approach of saltimbanques; and then I heard the words : Dans la plaine les baladins / S’éloignent au long des jardins . . . as if all circuses are in the end imaginary; all zoos; and all bridges too.
image : Lucien Clergue – Trio de Saltimbanques in Arles (1955)