Lynx, panther, jaguar, lion,
a bit of each and something else as well;
we felt its presence long before
the first eyes saw it
seconds on the skyline then away
among the trees, behind the hillocks
and the sheds where are our animals.
It haunts, it stalks;
we're not right sure which word is nearest to the truth,
but all we know:
there's something in the way it stretches
in mid-leap or -lope suggests
it has reserves of length we cannot guess;
and then there's something in its colour:
or jet as some have said,
though neither term does justice to its depth -
intense as mortal sin
dredged from the guilty mind, and dark as unbelief.
And then there's something in its shadowness...
substantial as the creature is, there's something in
the way it flits
from tree to tree
or clump to clump.
Though others see it differently, all are agreed
that in the whole of what it is, lives menace.
It comes to this perhaps:
that what we see in anything is what we've hid within.
Our guilty minds make blockheads of us all.
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