The Afterlion by Sarah Wolfson

always a lion
(though always the zoo is gutted)
wanders through this scene:

the empty seething streets

and though he might he doesn’t
stumble over wayward steel
or melting stone

but clearly something in his paw’s not right

his black-gold mane is now
the black-gold flame
that licked and let him loose

the donkeys? eaten
parrots? phoenixed dashingly away
no currency for elephants perhaps

or the prized one died on impact

but the lion takes on time
doesn’t die
is what everyone remembers and none have seen:

his tail that morning swishing
through the iron gate
later in the street him feasting

on what rot is to be found in hindsight

even yesterday
his orchid tongue
lapping plainly from the river
Sarah Wolfson‘s poems have appeared in AGNI, Gulf Coast, and The Mid-American Review. She was a 2009 finalist for the Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowships, and she has an MFA from the University of Michigan. She is originally from Vermont but currently lives and teaches in Montreal.