Check out my poem “Self Biography as Zoo Keeper,” published in the debut issue of Rhythm and Bones.
Self Biography As Zoo Keeper
by Ailey O’Toole
The men come to me with their hungry mouths,
their open throats. I remember the lessons: arms
extended away from your heart, elbows elongated
and wrists taut, palms face up, fingers unfurled by
violence, full of sustenance for the zoo animals.
They have only come for the taking;
there is no space for anything else.
I have only ever been taught to give
myself away, taught that my body
is a city waiting to be pillaged, taught
that I should be grateful when someone
arrived to do the job.
I don’t want this body to be an invitation.
I don’t want to flashlight myself for the hunting.
I know the bounds of my feralness and where it lies,
tongue wet with possibility.
I want to turn the zoo animals away. I want to withdraw
my hands from the cages, save some food for myself.