Lion Mother

Lion Mother pads through the woods
Scents fir, mulch, small prey,
Behind her, padding in single file,
Come Jason, Tyler, and Cindy,
Down on all fours, little kids playing lion.

Lion Mother is dead serious,
Tail tip lashing, ears pricked forward,
Every month when the full moon draws her
Away from her suburban home
Into the tangled half-wild.

She leads the way through stands of trees,
Left over undeveloped land between developments,
Among the empty plots
The creeping wilderness
Weaving the way through her half-world.

She pauses to sniff the breeze
Then they all pause, attentive,
Kid noses wrinkling,
Then she pounces, unsheathed claws in heavy paws,
Breaking the neck of pigeon, groundhog, next door’s dog.

Lion Mother divides the bloody raw spoils
With a hint of a growl if they don’t eat up
Changed, and unchanged, always their mother,
Cool at the daylight supper table,
Warm in the wild at the full moon.

Fur or no fur, they eat what they’re given,
Then she licks their faces with her rough tongue
“Aw! Mom!”
“That’s so gross!”
They follow her home, safe into their beds.

Years later, Tyler, something in IT.
Asks Cindy, partner in a Boston law firm,
Whether all that lion stuff was a dream or what?
Cindy raises a manicured eyebrow
“You really never changed then?”

And as Tyler’s face collapses, she laughs,
“Can’t believe I got you with that one!”
As Jason yawns hugely, stretched on the rug,
And Lion Mother sets down the cookies
With a closed and secret smile.

29th December 2021