CHEETAH, SEEN AT WILDLIFE SAFARI, WENTON, OR.
She tried to paint one of your kind once, from a photo in the National Geographic.
Intrigued by the art-deco lines of your body--but you wouldn't be inpressed by
Homage or art. Kneeling next to you in front of the Polaroid she is struck
At how strange a creature you are. She always imagined that your fur would be silky,
Short and sleak like a dalmatian's or a hamster's. She sees now that you are a narrow
Sack of bones and elastic, wrapped in old matted carpeting stained
By age as much as accident. Your eyes are the same color as your coat.
They show no depth, reflect everything, reveal nothing, but all the same she thinks
You would rather take your ballet dancer's slender legs and big feet away
From this human place and stretch your spine out in speed
Over the surface of the grass. Her father grimaces into the camera and says
The dark lines around your eyes and down
Your cheeks look like warpaint, or maybe the tracks of tears. She doesn't think
He would understand if she told him they are the tattoo of survival,
A creed they let fall from their pocket while rushing towards their destiny.