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
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?