Mandy Gutmann-Gonzalez
“The Lion,” which appears in our Issue #207


Past a row of thorns
strapped across the gate
and a no-trespassing sign
half-hidden by leaves,
my pockets bulging
with plums, soft and bruised
against my leg, I saw,
with one foot on a rock
about to cross over
the chicken-wire fence:
a clot of hair, coarse
as the hair of the doll
stiff in my hand and longer
than the length of my body
laid down. Its mane
matted with old blood
and sticking up a little
brushed back by a breeze.
Half its mane thrust through
the fence, tossed there
by the force of a bullet.
Above me, no whirl
of jay on limb. I couldn’t hear
a thing. Instead, ants
boiling up from the brow,
millions of merchants
clambering up the sandy nose
and dividing over the pupils
—they were rich,
carrying little pieces
of salt from the eyes, glassy
and open and chipped.
The air was torrid
with flies, titillating,
gagging—disappearing the skin
in patches. Every hour reddened
the lion more. Around me the tameness
of Ohio turned terrible: rows
and rows of bone-dry stalks
sprained by machines, left twisted
to whiten with winter.