Poetry | September 01, 1997
That Silence When A Mountain Lion Attacks
Those puffy clouds in the Rocky Mountains
could be gunfire, another time and place.
Before this planet spins us back home to the plains,
dozens will die by rockets or cannon fire,
puffs like clouds the last skies they will see.
I heard explosions often in Saigon
and the rapid pop of rifles, but high over jungles
I saw only distant puffs and fire, silence
except my own breath and chatter in my headset.
Even when Kelly exploded in mid-air, no others heard,
only a blip that disappeared on radar screens
back at Da Nang. The earth turns green again,
no matter what. Outside our cabin, magpies clown
and crazy hop for worms and lazy bugs, sluggish
under a thawing, Colorado sun. Last week,
two campers had their throats slit in their tent
not ten miles east. We never heard a scream.
The world will be the world, springtime or not.
Our oldest daughter’s forty and a day, and we are wiser
only by repute. The cost of living past a war
is personal. Feelings are cash stashed in cigar boxes
and not invested, no access by the Internet.
Only an elk calf knows how its neck feels
pierced by a puma, how nothing matters when fangs
bend it staggering back, unable to scream
or breathe. Nobody needs to know, but if they could,
they’d trade. Nobody’s degree of pain has been felt
anywhere, nobody’s loss is ever this severe.
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