Ferns with taut synthetic banana leaves and
chipping lightweight boulders
sit, arranged on sod inside a glass case.
A faded mural of an African landscape
twisted acacia tree ignited by an impressionist sunset
a backdrop, electric fencing its frame.
Dead grass drifts in an outsized dog bowl
murky with bits of fur and puke.
A faux mountain generates a door.
Tongs emerge through bars, plunking
lukewarm meat within.
A child smashes his fist against the exhibit,
fogging fat glass with muggy breath.
He propels his plush lion, sent recoiling
behind him into crowd.
Face paint smearing onto glass,
blob of papaya orange and black.
Slouched and gaunt, panting
in smog, the animal fans his tail for an anticipated breeze.
Pawing the dirt, toes spread clench spread clench
until collapsing unto rock. Raucous djembes pounding
over intercom, glare of tribal masks in his cage.
The child in his iris,
as a fly treads across his cornea.
Melinda Dubbs is from Fishers, Indiana, currently earning a Bachelor’s in English and Psychology at Indiana University Bloomington. Her work has appeared in Tipton Poetry Journal, zaum, Collision, Red Fez, and unFold, among others. She placed first in the 2012 Melba Geoffroy Poetry Contest.