I ask the lion lurking beyond the irascible tempt of longing
to open his mouth and come closer, closer. I put my head
inside his jaws, feel the moist smite of hot breath against
my cheeks, catch a shiver of antelope blood on my tongue.
I call him King, ask if he prefers a different name, if
the unspeakable loneliness of kings ever makes him wish
he lived elsewhere, perhaps in a luxury loft in some sprawling city,
had an office job that paid a touch too well, could ride
a train to and from work, nurse a planter of grass on his balcony
and sweet-dream it into the Serengeti whenever he felt
a pang of homesickness blooming in his gut. I turn to look down
his throat, expecting to see a pink fleshy cave of
hunger. Instead, I find a round window revealing the peppery
blackness of night, a host of giddy stars shooting
through the vastness. I forget my life is hovering on the wild
edge of slaughter, then remember. I close my eyes,
expecting each passing second to be my last, for the lion’s teeth
to tear into my face, crush my skull like a cantaloupe.
I wait until I become a part of him, until the sky cowers into itself,
swallowing me like a tooth. Soon I sense him crying,
a child’s soft, voiceless sobbing, a song. I open my eyes, see
I’m wearing a watch, sitting alone on a park bench in the dying
orange of evening, feeding stale bread to a posse of pigeons,
while above me an airplane crashes into the sun.