The Anatomy Lesson

— R. A. Villanueva

Copenhagen Zoo, 9 February 2014

The children circle Marius,
watch as his hide is peeled back from
around his forelegs, watch haunches
and neck opened to expose bone.

His keeper speaks of rifles, wild
dogs’ jaws, and acacia thorns, points:
Those tigers care only for blood;
these hyenas only for rot.


A boy plays with his spit. Somewhere,
a truck hauling garlic erupts
into a bus; a mother’s heart
fills with water; an armistice

falls dead. And what of mercy? Harm
is the norm. The doom should not jam.


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