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 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.