Big Cats at the Zoo
Just twelve years old, I braved the buildings reek
for animals that made my stomach weak.
Panthera leo boomed its bass,
wind howling over hollows in the ground
during a Serengeti thundershower,
its drumhead form too soft now to devour
victims, fight Heracles in Nemea
or die Christ-like in saving Narnia.
Panthera oncas tongue abraded
bone fragments. Smears of darkness on daylight,
rosettes engulfed its coat as if warm rain
fell while it oversaw a gods domain
from Machu Picchu to the Yucatán.
Panthera tigris gaped a toothy yawn
and groomed its fur, a shade-streaked conflagration
of jungle foliage. My imagination
perceived one crouching hidden past each door,
but this ones concrete den could only bore.
A black Panthera pardus paced, eyes
toward its spotted species-mate, whose marking
was finger-painted just so on its pelt.
The first, Bagheera prowling, must have felt
like silky ink run dry across the forest.
I stumbled out, a nauseated tourist
who saw the cats were, like the fecal smells,
half held by, half escaping from their cells.
Steven D. Schroeder
If you've any comments on
this poem, Steven
D. Schroeder would be pleased to hear from you.