by Lucie Brock-Broido
FOR A CLOUDED LEOPARD IN ANOTHER LIFE
You were a seed still in Darwin's left breast pocket,
Not imagined yet, almost invisible in the felt
There just above his heart,
The bluey nubbin sleeping in a child's
Things vanish in the morning when we wake
Like loam that only grows on buttermilk, at night.
In April, a tiny feline on the ledges of a billow cloud,
Or like the finch let loose in the mossery, you were ended
Unexpectedly; what is only left of you is only me.
FOR A SNOW LEOPARD IN OCTOBER
Stay, little ounce, here in
Fleece and leaf with me, in the evermore
Where swans trembled in the lake around our bed of hay and morning
Came each morning like a felt cloak billowing
Across the most pale day. It was the color of a steeple disappearing
In an old Venetian sky. Or of a saint tamping the grenadine
Of his heavy robes before the Blessing of the Animals.
I've heard tell of men who brought Great Pyrenees, a borzoi, or
Some pocket mice, baskets of mourning doves beneath their wicker lids,
A chameleon on a leash from the Prussian circuses,
And from the farthest Caucasus, some tundra wolves in pairs.
In a meadow I had fallen
As deep in sleep as a trilobite in the red clay of the centuries.
Even now, just down our winding road, I can hear the children blanketing
Themselves to sleep in leaves from maple trees.
No bad dreams will come to them I know
Because once, in the gone-ago, I was a lynx as well, safe as a tiger-iris
In its silt on the banks of the Euphrates, as you were. Would they take
You now from me, like Leonardo's sleeve disappearing in
The air. And when I woke I could not wake
You, little, sphinx. I could not keep you here with me.
Anywhere, I could not bear to let you go. Stay here
In our clouded bed of wind and timothy with me.
Lie here with me in snow.
From Lucie Brock-Broido, Stay, Illusion (2013).