the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night




Elena Alexander


Sun is setting, winds die
down. A lizard runs up a rock,
takes on coloring of its surround,
diaphragm moving in-out, forked-
lightning tongue snapping, removing
insects short-lived, but not of no account.
Lizard on the rock will remain
for a time. Hawk in the fork of a tree
knows lizard's there. Beneath the rock,
multi-eyed scorpion will wait till night
to hunt and prick, paralyze and devour.

Winds return, shifting.
Lioness, skin taut across ribs and hips,
her diaphragm, too, moves in-out. Nostrils
wing open, ears twitch, hair bristles. Inhales
herd scent before she sees it, preparing to rise,
yawning and stretching, leathery pads working
dry earth, single-tined killer prongs, delicately protracted.
Seems so casual, at first. How fast is the quarry? It can't matter.
What matters is to go forward crouching and slinking, slinking
and alert, to stalk and surprise, to run to ground, rip covering hide,
release blood and sink deep in, tearing flesh to pieces.
There is no easy prey, but sweetest meat lies closest
to the bone.



Back to Poetry