There is a zoo inside of me,
the girl says.
Her stomach is so round
and large that her legs
look like two small sign posts.
She is thirteen years old
and the other women hate her
because she still remembers how to smile.
She points to each of her bones,
introduces them as animals: the bent
knee is a monkey, her tailbone a fish,
her feet two wild cats.
When her body contracts,
she says the zoo
is getting restless. They might break
through my stomach, she says,
if we don’t let them out.
She spreads her legs
and the women pin
her down, waiting to suffocate
whatever comes out.
But out from her comes
elephants, bears, birds, and horses.
Out of her, there is a parade
of life, and the women hold brooms
and knives, but the animals
keep running. They keep running,
with their fur still full and new
with blood, their mouths open
and ready to eat the world whole.
from Rattle #48, Summer 2015
[ download audio]
Meg Eden: “In 2010, I first read about Gao, a Beijing lawyer whose law practice was shut down after representing a religious client. The cover of the article asked: ‘What is the cost of our silence?’ It’s because of this question that I write poetry, and also for this reason that poetry haunts me.” ( website)