At the Zoo

I watch the lions prance

in their enclosure, a rolling patch

of grass and rock

meant to imitate the savannah.


They sense the crowd: a sign

of feeding time. A zookeeper arrives


and opens the door

to the cage. With a blunt stick

and a few gestures, he gets the lioness

to lift her paws,


roll over, each time rewarding her

with a chunk of meat.


Here we minimize their contact

with humans so they’ll remain wild. But

we also have to coax

certain behaviors from them.


But I don’t see wild creatures, only

animals trained to perform

tricks for our cameras.

Teow Lim Goh

Teow Lim Goh is the author of Islanders (Conundrum Press, 2016), a volume of poems on the history of Chinese exclusion at the Angel Island Immigration Station. Her work has been featured in Tin House, Catapult, PBS NewsHour, Colorado Public Radio, and The New Yorker. She lives in Denver.