Through the smoke of wildfires,
the mountain lion had the same tint as the moon—
dark copper, as well as I could see
through the haze that burned my eyes,
what, at first I thought was a deer,
but too low to the ground,
and it’s body, a different kind of mass:
tendon and muscle at work under the skin,
the visible strength,
his vessel and passenger.
Where the smog held low to the valley
the zig-zag of a deer trail
like flames climb
into tree tops
to ferry substances
no longer bound to earth,
require a path
to be set free.
Alex Leavens has worked as a naturalist for the Portland Audubon Society, backcountry ranger and firefighter in the Olympic National Park, and primitive survival instructor in Southern Utah. His poetry has appeared in Cirque: A Journal for the North Pacific Rim, Windfall: A Journal of Poetry of Place, Perceptions Magazine, Clover: A Literary Rag, Tiny Seed Literary Journal, Frogpond, and Modern Haiku.