The Lion

Leonard Myburgh Airbrushed Lion
Courtesy of lonehillart.com

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The Lion


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Every angel is terrifying.
                        ~ Rilke

He comes in the dark, breaks doors,
muscles his way through windows.
His wings wrap around my heart like sin.
His words run through my blood
like blood.

The morning after, an absence
has fallen across the bed—
a cavern of fear. Even rumpled,
the missing feathers prove me
insignificant.

Where is the lion who will eat of my heart?
Where is the lion who will dream in my skin,
stretch his paws out of this loose
hide, his limbs already heavy
with slumber?

Where is the lion’s shadow,
the only one I can look at and not go blind?
Thick-pelted, well-fed, it must rest elsewhere,
its mane gathering darkness, the weight of its wings
achingly mine.

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First published in The 2River View, 18.2 (Winter 2014)

27 thoughts on “The Lion

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  1. Well, you had me at the Rilke quote. But… “His wings wrap around my heart like sin. // His words run through my blood // like blood.” It’s all good, powerfully written — leonine!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As a Leo (the Lion) myself, I can identify with this. I think it goes beyond symbolism and metaphor but touches something mythical that connects us with nature, with wildness and the need to be free, fine, and fierce. Excellent.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “His words run through my blood/like blood.”: This is beautiful. I can see the humane in this verse, with its aspiration for something carnal and freeing beyond the propriety of the world. I really enjoyed reading it.
    -HA

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for the Rilke quote – one of my favourite poems is his ‘Der Panther
    Im Jardin des Plantes, Paris’ which I’ve loved since I was a teenager and inspired me to write economical poetry. So you can understand why I love your poem! My favourite lines:
    ‘Where is the lion’s shadow,
    the only one I can look at and not go blind?
    Thick-pelted, well-fed, it must rest elsewhere,
    its mane gathering darkness, the weight of its wings
    achingly mine.’

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Kim—I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Yes, Rilke is someone I always go back to. I wish I could read him in the original. I’ve read his poems in various translations, Romanian, Russian, English, French, but I bet the German original has kept a few untranslatable secrets. The Panther is a heartache of a poem—it gets me every time. It does what poetry is meant to do.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. On the second reading, still beautiful and terrifying as a lion ~ Thanks for linking up with dVerse and wishing you a good weekend ~ Hope to see you when the pub doors open up again on July 16~

    Liked by 1 person

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