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.
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--
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