Annie, Call the Zoo

"Once, Helen [Keller] wanted to feel a lion. 
Annie Sullivan informed the zoo. 
A lion was fed; Helen entered its cage
 and felt the lion from its head to its tail."

Annie, tell the zoo I’m coming
to feel a lion with my hands
head to tail, I want to reach
inside its mouth and feel the tips
of teeth. I want to know the girth
of his mane, know the texture
of a lion’s hair. Annie, tell the zoo
to feed him well, for I will take
my time. I want to know how long
a lion is, I’m told even the length
of my whole body will seem small
and ever-so-fragile next to muscles
beneath (what kind of) fur. Annie
is it odd to ring the zoo and say,
“Let me in a lion cage”? I have no sight
and so cannot be afraid. I will not hear
if he growls under his breath, yet
I will feel it. We are speaking
language. We speak the same language,
and so, I have nothing to fear. Annie,
call the zoo, tell them I’m coming.

*from the poetry archives, circa 2015.