When the heat plummeted
And the desert drew cold,
A lion weeded his way
With heaving, sinewy steps
Over the snake paths,
Coiling in the salt and sand.
His mane was well tangled
In progressively retreating halos
And his eyes panned and glinted—
Green-glowing round turtle shells—
That flashed a beautiful blaze,
Reaching to the sinking sun.
Knives of grass, dry weeds,
The debris of plate gold glory,
Stabbed into his black sodden paws
And left behind congealed blood
That rose blue like the last sunset
In the sky that flickered and faded and died.
The rabbits were dead also:
Dried in the seaward wind
And taken by their skeletons
To the surface of some great welling—
Pouring golden tears
Over the vacant skyline.
While the lion watched the nighttime come alone,
Sheets of sand blew through his nostrils
And his rib cage showed
A decaying metal grating
Under his matted, dark fur
With its suffocating staleness.
He was now thin and dim
And dreamed of long-not-had rest
Until he could stand no more
And sunk into the ground.
And when his proud bones cracked,
The very marrow seaped into the salt.