Zoo by Michael Gray

I don’t want to watch
the sharks like smoke
above my head. I sit
near the river fish,
mouth twisting. My
kids tap the tank,
but it’s only glass. I don’t
want to watch them, near
some pipes. Mouthing
words, I’m twisting
at the river fish, exhibiting
the way I tap my fingers.
Kids in the barn chew.
It’s only glass between them;
doesn’t it seem like more than that?
Look. Here’s a straw from an aquarium drink
refilled with tap water, dripping
like the pipette I used long ago
in biology class for some tincture,
and I remember king snakes.
And those loan sharks
twisting my fingers. They
told me I’d sleep soon
with the fishes; I was limp
in a few minutes. Now, kids
spot the skate and stingray
mouths glide through sand.
I learned how corn’s processed.
In the milking section, I saw the cattle.
Feed the snakes mice. No one escapes.
Kids, get away from my feet.
Now, don’t tap the glass; it hurts
that shark sitting between rocks.
Why don’t you let me step outside?
The light’s bright, too bright. Kids,
do you see my lost eye? Don’t stare;
it’s only made of glass.

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