For decades we tracked each other,
Allies, prayer-mates and honored opponents.
We each had paid our respects to the other in a variety of ways.
I don’t know how this secret relationship began.
There were dreams in which you took me on Technicolor adventures.
In others you were a calm strong companion by my side.
And in some you roared at me.
I would awaken with a fright.
Then we met at the top of a mountain pass at 4 AM,
you hissing threateningly, eyes glowing red in the dimness.
That time you introduced me to my primal animal nature.
I grew large, bared my teeth and displayed my fingernails-turned-into-claws.
I heard my own fierce growl – a new emanation from my throat –
echo off the valleys on both sides.
Every cell in my slender body believed without doubt
that I could and would rip you to shreds should you attack.
You backed down from our face-off.
Thank you for bringing out my killer instinct,
the proper use of my sword.
But now, cougar, I have a new kind of predator.
They have taken up residence within the body that faced down yours.
Micro-organisms are tricky adversaries.
They have been wrestling with me for my now-mangled sword.
I have not been able to wield it successfully.
Infiltrating my being,
they have confused me as to who I am.
Loved ones are sustaining injuries in the battle.
These microscopic attackers aren’t like you;
they torture me in a long drawn-out process.
When you confronted me,
there was a simplicity about it. No animosity.
An age-old agreement between species.
I knew you were defending your young, or hungry.
I defended myself.
The way of this world.
But what motivates these tiny beings?
They won’t face me squarely.
Their insidious methods are cruel.
Perhaps they are a bit lost and confused, like humans can be?
I sense no interspecies connection, here.
Is there anything you can teach me in this situation, my cougar mate?
Any of your relaxed strength you can transmit to me?
I am in great need.
Or do I need a new teacher now?
I saw a slow-motion film once,
of you beating out your prey in the chase.
That rabbit knew when its time was up.
It turned belly up at the last moment,
offering itself to you, to fate.
What beauty in that!
Has that time arrived for me?
Is it a rabbit teacher I need now?
I’d like to surrender with such grace, if so.
Then, will we all lie down together,
lion, lamb, rabbit, pathogens and all?
I always vaguely thought that sounded nice.
But still I resist.
Originally composed for Palabras's official Website by Molly Hunt.