The Mountain Lion

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

he climbed

the zig-zag of a deer trail

like flames climb

into tree tops

to ferry substances

no longer bound to earth,

which still

require a path

to be set free.

-Alex Leavens

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.