There Was No One to Teach Me This by Brandi Spaethe

Emily walks through the abandoned zoo, stops
to reach into the grass, removes
a stone. She passes it to me
like a stick of gum. I roll it between fingers,
push dirt off soft edges. What

are we going to do tonight?

A man at the gas station
earlier that night said, “Sir, I can help you
here,” and Emily walked to the counter,

wet neon Open blanching
both their faces.

I understand why the lion paces
with mouth hung open.
Will we get something hot to drink?
Drive to the observatory?
Look through the telescopes?

Emily flicks ash, crouches
to enter an empty cage. I follow her
inside. Remember that time
you asked me to come
outside and have a cigarette
with you? It was before. I only
imagined, then, how your body could shift,

how you smell.

She asks, “What animal do you think was in here?”
Are we ever actually going to the park?
I want your mouth on the back of my neck,
and I want you to mean it.

I thread my fingers through the wiring.

I think they were lions.

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