How to Be Eaten by a Lion
by Michael Johnson
If you hear the rush, the swish of mottled sand
and dust kicked up under the striving paws,
its cessation, falling into the sharp and brittle grass
like the tick of a tin roof under sun
or hint of rain that nightly wakes you,
try to stand your ground. Try not to scream,
for it devalues you. That tawny head and burled
mange, the flattened ears of its sleek engine
will seem only a blur, a shock, a shadow,
across your neck that leaves you cold.
It may seem soft, barely a blow,
more like a falling, an exquisite giving
of yourself to the ground, made numb
to those eyes. It may be easier just to watch,
for fighting will only prolong things,
and you will have no time to notice the sky,
the texture of dust, what incredible leaves
the trees have. Instead, focus on your life,
its crimson liquor he grows drunk on.
Notice the way the red highlights his face,
how the snub nose is softened, the lips made
fuller; notice his deft musculature, his rapture,
because in all creation there is not art
to compare with such elegance, such simplicity.
Notice this and remember it,
this way in which you became beautiful
when you thought there was nothing more.