Saturday, August 14, 2010

Mountain Lion on East Hill Road, Austerlitz, NY

Once, years ago, I saw

the mountain cat. She stepped

from under a cloud

of birch trees and padded

along the edge of the field. When she saw

that I saw her, instantly

flames leaped

in her eyes, it was that

distasteful to her to be

seen. Her wide face

was a plate of gold,

her black lip

curled as though she had come

to a terrible place in the long movie, her shoulders

shook like water, her tail

swung at the grass

as she turned back under the trees,

just leaving me time to guess

that she was not a cat at all

but a lean and perfect mystery.

that perhaps I didn't really see,

but simply understood belong here

like all other perfections

that still, occasionally, emerge

out of the last waterfalls, forests,

the last unviolated mountains, hurrying

day after day, year after year

through the cage of the world.

Once a wild cat stepped out of a cloud of mist and saw me. I was in Tikal, Guatemala - a magical place of Mayan ruins suggesting unheard of possibilities. It was early morning and as I walked along an ancient promenade between temples, an ocelot stepped upon the same path facing me. Such mystery, such beauty, and such a brief moment of a gift I instantly appreciated. Then the unexpected happened. The cat started walking towards me, closer and closer. I grew alarmed - perhaps the cat was sick, or had rabies because this was certainly atypical behavior. I also held onto the hope that somehow I had been chosen by the wild world as one fit to be in relationship with non human animals, that I was not a cager, but a liberator. I could be trusted. While thinking this the ocelot came to within touching distance and I squatted to put our eyes on the same level. She stared at me, and then jumped into my lap! She purred, rubbed her head on my hand, and every time she stole glimpses in my eyes my heart leaped. Ever the wildlife rescuer, I walked around the ruins with her in my arms until she grew tired of this, and then she followed us for a while, and then she disappeared. Later that morning I discovered that she was frequently seen being friendly to tourists, for she had been raised as a kitten by humans, her mother killed. She was now free to roam the forests, and still she choose to interact with her possible cages. I know, I know. She was probably still able to obtain food more easily than hunting and that is what kept her close to us. But what if, we are as wild as her, and as free as her, and there are no such things as cages, human made or otherwise. We, like her, have a choice to be free and in so doing, liberate others.

Where do you feel caged, or cage others?

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