The Star Panther

There is a panther so large that when it walks the cosmos solar spots flare on earth’s sun and Mercury winces, grows fractionally smaller until the increase in heat dissipates and that planet can sigh with regained expansion.  In this cup of all universes it stalks gazelles behind stars.  Its belly rides close to the edges of Saturns by other names in other systems as it slinks toward its prey.  There are many such panthers deep in the systems prowling the stars, devouring gazelles for nourishment and each of them leaving their spoor just as the gazelles leave their vaporous gases-signs predators, in a long line of predators, live by.  The gazelles never sleep.  In due course they faint from unrest and as their legs drop from behind star cover the dark panther moves in to banquet upon what it has sought for a thousand days or years, surviving through lonely space on the termites shaken from comets as they passed him or her.  (There are truly more she panthers than he in the cosmos but they are so far beyond political correctness that such manners of speech go unnoticed.  And unsaid.)  They are lethargic, these panthers, when full and in their fullness is when gazelles flock to the most distant nebulae to mate and calf new springers and dancers to dash the great savannahs of heaven, leading the waking cats on spiraling journeys across silk clouds hung with rose damask and black velvet robes thrown off for the night by bears that no longer wear fur.  They maneuver space and around all objects in space as if traveling the same roads over and over again, never bumping an asteroid or stepping upon an Alp sprung from Venus with hooves that would rive the planet in half or split the ranges away into space to become another moon.  No.  The infant gazelles race owls in flight and laugh at panthers’ sly moves and stealth until their lives spin out.

            The hunt has gone on from the beginning.  Before gazelles the panthers stalked owls and before panthers the owls stalked the small furry mice of night.  These days you can hardly find one!  Theoreticians in some quarters of the cosmos surmise the increase in comet termites is due to the decrease in mice of the night.  There are dissenters, of course.  Of course there are dissenters.



[after reading W. S. Merwin’s “The Camel Moth” from The Book of Fables]


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