This is the first of three days of animal-themed poetry by Renee Carter Hall. Renee is curating the 2016 [adjective][species] Poetry Collection, which is open for submissions until 22 April.
Your stripes on my skin are foolish,
garish colors on a flattened face–
you were never meant to walk on two legs,
to sacrifice your rolling-smoke stride
for my half-falling, unbalanced gait.
I will not flatter myself to be
even your poor imitation,
your ridiculous reflection,
no matter how much I long for your form.
I will borrow your fire instead,
the deep, fierce light of your eyes.
I will learn how to crouch and wait
and trust that the right moment will come.
I will learn to hunt
what I need to survive.
How he rested
his massive head on the log —
the easy curve of his claws —
I have never seen anything
so casually powerful
yet so open to endearment,
so likeable in the eyes,
no feline “I’m beyond you” gaze
that lions and jaguars cherish —
a thousand pounds of bear,
all weight at rest —
and it’s enough.
Lord Tiger’s Answer
The question, he said, is not
why some of my kind
prey upon man.
It is why all of us do not.
Your hide is thin, your flesh
is soft, you are blind as
wet cubs, and the wind
says nothing to you.
Men stumble like chital fawns
through this jungle,
bleating their complaints
for any hunter to hear.
Why, then? Not pity:
We feast on the young,
the unsteady, the trembling;
they are as gifts to the hungry.
It is not, even, the weapons you carry
that crack the sky with their fire.
It is your very strangeness
that closes our jaws–
of this earth, but not walking in it,
you carry the movement of worlds
in your stride, carry the heavens
in your gaze, carry so many swirling
confusions in your heads,
where we are bone and teeth and claws.
Easy meat, oh yes,
but it sits sour in our bellies,
fouls our breath,
and muddies our minds.
(Readers can find more of my poetry, on various subjects, at http://www.reneecarterhall.com/poetry.html)