There is a flash of gold mane and not much else;
the king of the jungle sleeps out of sight. Show’s
over. Head home. That day at the zoo I asked you
why they keep spectacular beasts in cages,
and you said, “Did you know that almost 700 people
every year are attacked by lions?” I didn’t, but
I wanted you to say that we keep them in cages
so we can admire their honeyed fur, the crystal clear
danger in their eyes. It’s been months since anybody
said what I actually wanted to be said. A stranger
once asked me how it feels to love someone
older and wiser, a steady ship in a sea of paper-thin
lifeboats, and I couldn’t quite tell her that
being born years apart is just background noise,
a footnote in the murky history we’ve built for
ourselves. It’s been months since I said what I
actually wanted to say. You reach for my hand
while crossing a busy street, and I wonder how
a man is shaped to be so sure of himself, so sure
of his strength and ability to protect against
the rush of steel, silent leers, limbs ready to snatch
and run. I’ve heard the rumors about me, hastily
manufactured in line at the cafeteria, or in between
classes; how I wear your good fortune on
my sleeve, and around my neck, shiny and
new, and dangling from my arm in genuine leather
glory. How I never have to work a day in my life.
They wonder what you’re getting in return, exactly,
because it can’t be nothing. “It doesn’t work that way,”
they say. I’ve heard the rumors about me, too many
to keep up with, when all I really want is for them to
be happy for me. We keep spectacular beasts in cages,
blind them with our flashing lights and piercing stares
that proudly announce how we’re better than them,
because we roam free, because we don’t sleep
behind bars. It is a waiting game that someone is
always bound to lose. You keep my photo in your
corner office, wish someone would pause and ask
who I am. There is a flash of gold mane and
not much else. Show’s over. Head home.