Jan/Feb 2004 Poetry Special Feature

After the Puma

by J.P. Dancing Bear


After the Puma

for Óscar Wong

The mountain lion breathes a forest,
it roars out aspen and oak
that stretch their branches to the sea—
the leaves are passports,
speaking distance and place.
Each has a tongue of aroma:
musk, wilted blooms, wet rot.
The puma has seen
into the flaming heart of lightning,
has heard the echo and roar of the sea,
knows death is a desert and canyon.
It knows the Earth as a sacred being
who made muscles from mud.
Metal thunders, it screams at the heart
of the hunter—chases her away.
The leaves release a whispered prayer,
Mother of roots give us water
from which we make our tears.


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