By Stuart M. Anderson
Day on the savannah is an inheld breath
between the brief, cool pants of dawn and dusk,
a tawny silence aching to be broken
by any sharp sound.
I watch from a small shade.
The giraffes browse among the treetops,
within the rustling shadows of their leaves,
in the high communion only they know.
The antelope graze on the turf,
in the broad light and rippling distance;
what psalm the grass sings, only they know.
The giraffes have their patient gods in the treetops,
and the antelope theirs in the turf;
always and everywhere they are with them,
but the faint scent of mine comes to me
from some far place I do not know,
fleeing, and always further.
Once, I was a young hunter, and my worship was swift!
and once –
for one brief, exalted leap –
I had my teeth in the lean flank of heaven,
but I couldn’t bring it down.
“The Lioness” by Stuart M. Anderson was chosen this month by Br. Paul Quenon, OCSO, as the first place winner for the Thomas Merton Prize for Poetry of the Sacred. Read other top poems here.