leopardSeeing a Caged Leopard Through Rilke’s Eyes

Stalking the silence of his greasy cage
pacing the bars, the tightness, the torture
of the ten counted steps of his exile
The lines of his body tighten and loosen
and break like a wave that yearns to break freee
As children tease him
and fathers shudder at his beauty
feigning terror that he’s free

He growls for a camera
or is it in memory of his lost primeval pride
that smolders in his eye?
We fear his rage, but covet his power
And dream his power to know his rage

The slap and quiver of the leaves
as he leaps, with us, to that eager fire
of slashing claws and ripping teeth
going for the throat to take what is his
but never ours
The glory and the blood
a life without thought, without guilt, without shame
only the clean
and sweet
pleasure of the perfect kill       

– Published in Wilderness House Review


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