Tense and unforgiving behind the bars
of their steel and Plexiglas playground,
the cheetah and panther
pace. They eyeball each other,
and circle, keeping their distance
as much as they can in that confine.

Outside this fauverie, the orangutan
feeds and sits and rests
his belly on the floor,
his chest folds on his belly
and his chin folds on his chest,
while the lean young impala
with spiraling antlers circles to mount
a prospective mate, who flips her tail coyly
as though she has no idea
what he might want.

Beyond that set of bars
is a long promenade, with chestnut trees blooming
and plane trees, and lovers
and mothers with babies in strollers.
Guafres and sandwiches.
Glaces and cafés, and boissons of all sorts
among sparrows and jays.

Aaround all of this, yet another wall;
its iron gates open to sidewalks
and curbstones, to asphalt and autos—
the wide world, the free world, the cruel world,
the wind world. It’s my world.
My own world. My prison. My life.

 

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