Underwater Panther

by Brigit Truex

I am lying on this rock-lip, above 
ink-shaded water, determined to see 
for myself as just below

it lunges, horned cat-head grins no grin
ferocious teeth snatching at my face
its long-pulled body ripples, twitching

mix of sinuous feline and murky snake
unnatural, warned of, hissing
fanged claws rake stones, maul the air  

wet moss drooling its jaws, its barbed length, tail 
snapping, thrashes itself into the deep darkness
just beyond my reach, its reach. Turbulent

quiet, rock-spurned wake seethes, settles.
I stumble back, heart, a fist against my chest.
My throat, a drum. Had I tumbled in,

Who would know? Search? Fear for me?
Far from the lake, I stop running at last.
Aspen-leaf quiver in my legs, done.

My breath catches up to me. I stretch out my hands,
slightest tremble still, see the doubled image of
leaf drifting to water, paired, mirrored.

I puzzle what remains seen and unknown. Could some hand
lured the panther-spirit to lair there, below the surface,
given it endless life, pecked stone to stone

below the hanging ledge, to leap and snarl at the unwary –
protect those waters with its flaring eyes, storied
tooth and claw? The how is mine, the why,

the answer, a cloud in my hand.

© Copyright Brigit Truex

After living in various parts of the country, Brigit Truex left California’s Sierra Nevada mountains for the flatter, milder section of Kentucky’s Blue Grass plateau. With a heritage of First Nations (Abenaki/Cree), French Canadian, and Irish, it is no surprise that the natural world has greatly influenced her poetry. Her work has been included in various international journals and anthologies, including About Place, apt, Yellow Medicine Review, and others. She was a finalist for both the Locked Horn Press prize and Hopper Journal Prize. Her latest collection, Sierra Silk, is available on Amazon. Her website is booksandsuchbybrigittruex.wordpress.com.

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