Monday, January 3, 2011

Lion in Suburbia

            Lion in Suburbia

They spotted him one early gray morning
placidly seated  by the children’s swingset,
over-sized marzipan cat,
like a child’s stuffed toy abandoned to the dew-------

(Panthera leo, you with ratty mane and skeptical  look,
briefly free of  the torments that brought you here,
what compromises have you been asked to make,
while imagining a world where God shuts not the lion’s mouth.)----------

What amazed them all was how still he sat---
like a statute!—is he real?— motionless predator
balanced against the backdrop of swings,
shell-shocked yellow eyes

staring down a  newly-mown suburban lawn.
Roar for us! the children howled,
safely beating on  glass panes.
Come away, children, come away from the windows.

We have to call someone, they said.
We must alert the authorities.
Yet they too were perplexed and transfixed
by the  frayed version of mythic grandeur.

And later when the lion was surrounded and shot dead,
the spectacle of his  limp yellow  body
splayed in final retreat,
the children  ran out in search of  paw prints,

claimed remnants of the tufted tail.
They traced the flattened grass for souvenirs of fierceness,
ran roaring circle pretending to be lions too.
One child gleefully recalled the lion’s  loamy eye

filled with predator  light, like this! like this!
the proof of his terrible danger.

Published in RATTLE, 2005 (Alyce Miller)

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