Her feet slipped and pattered;
She never felt more in danger
Than in the presence of this stranger.
His four feet down, her two feet in--
The more she longed to shed her skin,
The more she raced to keep his stride,
The more she felt he tried to hide,
And now the woods seemed like a cave,
Echoing warnings to the brave.
Though tangled under roots and wire,
His footprints spread like wildfire
And burnt her soles as swift she tread
And left the dead to bury dead.
For more than once she died inside
And wailed for the earth to hide
Her deep within its shifting sands,
Like water drips through open hands.
And more than once she caught a glimpse
Of his golden tail as evidence
To warm her heart and push her deeper
Into a jungle that could not keep her.
Then suddenly the light went black--
Aware there was no going back--
She sank into the cold, wet ground
And hurled a most ferocious sound
From deep inside that startled her
In wordless patterns, familiar.
And suddenly the Lion appeared
Like radiant fire and darkness cleared
As he bid it die, as he bid it flee
As he roared in awful majesty!
And stooping down to me he wept,
For never a girl so frightened crept--
Stripped of all her bravery,
Helpless in her slavery.
I gasped to breathe the breath he gave--
Released myself that he could save
My carcass collapsed upon his mane
And with my tears flowed all my pain.
I tried to speak, tried to explain.
My tongue was numb, it moved in vain.
He silenced me in tenderness
And all he said was, LIONESS.