at the zoo and at home


The children’s chatter ceases at the turn between

the sea-lions and the anacondas.

Neither bright cries in sparkling water

nor sinister sway of sinew frightens them—

but they still before the darkened glass.

The pacing death knows they are there

and breathing.

The leopard is full feline wild,

lithe as silk or woman.

Darting, it jumps upon itself as tame

as any eager hound in the house,

as dangerous as the child too calm

playing with knives.

When we come home,

the smaller leopard is tight-hunched over the pale carpet.

The arched bridge back, every essential vertebrae a key-stone.

Her confession lies there between the frayed stack of

newspapers and the lamp, small and silent

as a bird without wings.

© 2015 Anna-Christina Betekhtin, All Rights Reserved.

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