She knew the carpeted halls well.
So one dark night she walked
Past the mammalian exhibit,
Where she once taught a group of 1st graders
All about the miracles of four-chambered hearts,
Past the curator's office,
Where ancient Dr. Voight once told her
She was too pretty to work in the field,
To the Hall of Dinosaurs.
The low guardrail snaked around the worn walls
To the red glow of the Exit sign that hung
In a darkened grove of painted prehistoric trees
Like a carnivore's eye gleaming in the night
Hunting down the unsuspecting traveler
To make a midnight snack.
The animals lay in wait in their plastic hides,
Their papier-mâché bones tensed for an action of escape;
Everyone there was eternally waiting to flee.
She imagined the dinosaurs coming to life:
Transformation triggered by the magic of the night
And the absence of security guards.
The Brachiosaur would bend down his fossilized neck
To munch the leaflets on carbon dating while
The Iguanodon would sweep up her young and wander
Out of the hall to cool off in the fountain in the lobby,
And the Tyrannosaur would stalk off to Dr. Voight's office,
And while he feasted she would observe Cretaceous feeding habits.
There were always fingerprints on the glass around the dioramas
Little remnants scraped by tiny tourist fingers down the exhibits
She wiped it clean with her dusty lab coat
And looked into the scene frozen in time:
A velociraptor suspended in the still air
Over the defenseless head of a baby triceratops.
She touched the dusty sleeve again;
It was dust freshly drilled from an eons-old fossil.
She knew how the triceratops felt.