April 01, 2009


The conditions of a solitary bird are five: First that it flies to the highest point. Second that it does not seek after company; not even its own kind. Third, that it aims its beak to the wind. Fourth, that it has no definite color. Fifth that it sings very sweetly.
(John of the Cross: Sayings of Light and Love)

Clouded Leopard
To begin it was thought she was bird,
raven, or solitary spotted owl.

Next, her tree dwelling ways,
how she slunk under branches,
lunged headlong down tree trunks.
Of this, it was said simply, squirrel.

Perhaps not fauna at all, theories grew.
This coat of gray elliptic shadows
and the sorrow provoked
by her poised against the bluest
afternoon sky. Cloud species: alto-cumulus.

Yet hearing of her saber-ic canines,
the gift of balance, her long tail,
and that she’d gone mad in captivity
first killing, then devouring her young,

prowling the corners of her keep,
disappearing entirely and for days,

and how her mate became aggressive
after sexual encounters.

I recognize, but do not declare,
this cousin of mine.


HelenQP said...

Gorgeous poem. The wild feminine. It reminded me of Louise Erdrich's short story, The Antelope Wife.

janjoplin said...

Your comment & the time you took to read my blog means a great deal to me despite my flummox in mistagging you. I just can't see anymore, especially those little FB jpg's! This is one of my favorite poems and thanks also for the compliment! It feels good to be heard; particularly by ones peers!
Best affection,