The Lioness

No one knew she was a lioness, at first--

It happened by degrees.

The other girls did not have

Teeth as sharp and white as hard ghosts;

The boys could not stalk and kill

Like she could.

In time,

Her own family locked their doors

And began greeting her

With the sound of cocked rifles.

So she wandered

Like a crescent moon across the summer sky.

She was the only lion in her entire range--

All through the close sultry nights, she hunted alone,

Taking hoof and horn until she was marked

Like a woman with tattoos.

In the day,

She had dreams that she was back in school,

And that she she had shown up naked;

Then upon waking, surrounded by dust and flies,

She really was naked

And still alone.

The land rovers come sometimes,

And the people with cameras--

They say,

Look at her,

So strong, so beautiful;

But she slips away into the bush.

She searches for any glimpse of a particular tawny shade,

But finds only hard dry dirt and roads to nowhere.

She can do things none of the girls she grew up with can do--

She is more striking than any of them,

In her own singular, wild way.

She is the only lion in her entire range,

And through the endless nights

And the killing, solitary days,

Being loved by some distant, feral god is not nearly

Not ever




Tess Kincaid said…
I have those naked dreams, only in mine, I'm not at school, I'm at church. (hang-ups abound) :)
ellen abbott said…
words fail me and a low moan escapes.
Dear Tiger-Friend: This poem makes me think of the Ugly Duckling myth. It's not that *she* is wrong for being a Lion---it's just that she is surrounded by mere mortals.
Maude Lynn said…
My heart breaks for her. Gorgeous writing.
Daryl said…
Love it .. have you read The Hunger Games? I finished it a week or so ago and this brings parts of it back to me ...
Sara said…

I don't why this poem makes me of this, but it reminds of a story in the book, Women Who Run with Wolves.

The story is about a very elegant and extremely tall black woman, who had always felt out of place. No one seemed to be like her, not even anyone in her family, which traced back to Africa.

Then she made a trip to Africa and tracked down the tribe she supposed came from. To her surprise, they all looked just like her.

What stood out in this story for me is that we DO have our own "tribes;" we just have to keep searching to find them. I will hope that "the only lion in her entire range" discovered the range next to hers and that the feral tawny one she needs is also looking for her:~)
hedgewitch said…
Life as the Hunt. But lionesses hunt together, and one lioness is a lostness on the plains. Seek and someday find more than just a meal,or abstract recognition from something more ghostly than she, one hopes. That line about the rifles cocked against her--true as bone, my friend.
Sherry Blue Sky said…
Wow. This one hits straight to the heart. Powerful, lonely and utterly perfect. Love the guns cocked against her so she wandered "like a crescent moon across the summer sky". Beautiful! "hard dirt and roads to nowhere." "the killing, solitary days" and the not ever enough. I so hear you. This lion is forgetting that she is MAGNIFICENT, and when she crosses those hills into the neighbouring lands, other lions will find her, and will greet her with joy. Fantastic piece of writing, Shay. It is so good it hurts the heart.
TALON said…
There's beauty in being unique...though it's oft overlooked and totally unappreciated...
Lynn said…
A brilliant touch - having the Land Rovers come by. This was gorgeous.
Beautifully brilliant !!
Brian Miller said…
you know we would not have her any other way thought...lionesses need to be lionesses, not put in cages and fed until tame...
Caty said…
I hope she soon in her lonely trave stumbles upon her lioness companions. this was a great read