Scene at the Central Park Zoo, Late Winter

Three Macaques bend toward us and shove their leather-tipped

fingers through the metal wiring to grab

hold of the orange slices I’ve peeled

for them. This morning, we are two

of a handful of people stuttering through the zoo.

No work today because we skipped it

and wandered here, where drizzle falls on and off

onto leftover snow. Frenzied, the small creatures,

slightly human, struggle for my hand.

I recognize their appetite, though it shames me—

the devouring of something

foreign and sweet cutting through

the circumstance of a life. February 8th, 2016.

Lunar New Year and the Year of the Monkey,

year of the intelligence to stop asking why.

When my palms are finally empty, the feeding ends

and we turn toward our fragment of the gate.

Newly divorced, you toss the puzzle of orange peels

into the trash and motion for the exit. Suddenly I know

this is the reason you were angry last night

when, after we slept together, I asked for the take-out

we saved in the fridge. Above us,

a downpour designs itself in the clouds.

I tell you none of what I know until now.

By Carlie Hoffman

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