The lioness

The lioness yawns with gaping jaws, her teeth
blunted and decayed, no longer a tearer of flesh.
Her leg muscles liken to an overgrown kitten that has lost
the urge to play – fatigue lies in the line of her body
in place of stamina.
She descends from the rocks on which she has lain for
more hours than she can measure. Time has no meaning here,
her home a net of confinement, boredom a requirement.
She sniffs her prison and tests her fangs on the wire. She grunts
And slumps. There’s no hope here.
Her gaze at those who peer at her den is bleak and empty.
She is empty.

I think of her on the knoll on an African plain –
graceful she is, striding proudly through the grasses,
her booming gut-driven voice commanding and forceful. In the long grass
her camouflage is perfectly matched, her object to merge.
A silent killer in her natural space.
The sleek, machine-honed muscles bulging as she brings
down her kill, and tears its flesh apart as her victim dies.
A Valkyrie struts the Earth, snarling
at the younger males who would share her kill.
A vision of motherhood – a Madonna and child –
a natural-born killer (as the phrase goes).
Living life as she pleases.

In her wire cage she is a travesty.
A bag of bones of ever shifting shape. A bag that dispiritedly wanders
along the same path she has traipsed for months. Her once proud frame
slumps, her fur is mottled and marked with splashes
of urine and marred by faeces not managed.
She is mankind’s mascot, the signifier of his superiority over all,
His Narcissus …or its Echo?

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