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Mountain Lion

2006-02-16 00:00

Climbing through the January snow, into the Lobo canyon
Dark grow the spruce-trees, blue is the balsam, water sounds still
unfrozen, and the trail is still evident.
Men!
Two men!
Men! The only animal in the world to fear!
They hesitate.
We hesitate.
They have a gun.
We have no gun.
Then we all advance, to meet.
Two Mexicans, strangers, emerging out of the dark and snow and
inwardness of the Lobo valley.
What are they doing here on this vanishing trail?
What is he carrying?
Something yellow.
A deer?
Qué tiene, amigo?
León -
He smiles, foolishly, as if he were caught doing wrong.
And we smile, foolishly, as if we didn't know.
He is quite gentle and dark-faced.
It is a mountain lion,
A long, long slim cat, yellow like a lioness.
Dead.
He trapped her this morning, he says, smiling foolishly.
Lift up her face,
Her round, bright face, bright as frost.
Her round, fine-fashioned head, with two dead ears;
And stripes in the brilliant frost of her face, sharp, fine dark rays,
Dark, keen, fine rays in the brilliant frost of her face.
Beautiful dead eyes.
Hermoso es!
They go out towards the open;
We go on into the gloom of Lobo.
And above the trees I found her lair,
A hole in the blood-orange brilliant rocks that stick up, a little cave.
And bones, and twigs, and a perilous ascent.
So, she will never leap up that way again, with the yellow flash of a
mountain lion's long shoot!
And her bright striped frost-face will never watch any more, out of the
shadow of the cave in the blood-orange rock,
Above the trees of the Lobo dark valley-mouth!
Instead, I look out.
And out to the dim of the desert, like a dream, never real;
To the snow of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, the ice of the mountains
of Picoris,
And near across at the opposite steep of snow, green trees motionless
standing in snow, like a Christmas toy.
And I think in this empty world there was room for me and a mountain
lion.
And I think in the world beyond, how easily we might spare a million
or two of humans
And never miss them.
Yet what a gap in the world, the missing white frost-face of that slim
yellow mountain lion!

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