Feeding Time at the Sultan's Menagerie
My mother is a hyena
and when the men come to feed us
she makes a terrible noise that I can hear
even from across the zoo,
but they think it is laughter
and they don't know that it is her
saying the same thing she always does:
"More, more! Why isn't there more?"
She cannot help herself;
She is a scavenger.
When I was born, she picked me up
in jaws that can crush an elephant femur
and for a second, the keepers that watched her
held their breath, thinking she was
about to eat me.
Somehow I was spared
and even the poison of her saliva,
the festering bacteria that kills days later,
only served to bathe me.
She is the leader.
She says, "You do what I say and
you don't complain because you are mine."
And she keeps a pile of bones in the back
of her cage, even though they only feed
us chickens and she says, "This is for when
there are no more birds because the men
are worse than leopards and will not
be generous much longer."
She bites them when t