On Seeing Lions...

On Seeing Lions for the First Time

Phineas stopped
the Land Rover abruptly.
He hopped out, stooped,
and drew a circle around the prints.
Determined we should see cats
our final day in Savuti,
he drove into the bush.
I heard my heart beat in my head.

Within ten minutes, he had tracked them:
two males, brothers likely,
a coalition defending turf.
They languished
in the midmorning sun,
aloof, bored with us.
We timidly snapped shutters
until the larger one got up
and walked directly toward the vehicle. 

Phineas caught our eye
in the rearview mirror and whispered,
"Don't stand, don't talk, don't move,
don't do anything at all,
and he will walk around us."
I didn't breathe or take a picture
until the cat had cornered the van.
He hid himself behind a tree,
escaping publicity.

Just when I thought I was safe,
stopped to reload my camera,
the other, who had been sleeping,
followed, moving so close
I could have touched him.
It wasn't until night
in our primitive tent,
spiders the size of half-dollars
on the wall, 

I assessed
I had spent.
Too near their raw
and awful beauty,
overwhelmed by this peril,
this Eden,
I lay listening
to my husband's heart
and cried.



Darting Fishers