Black Jaguar with Quai Saint-Bernard

Behind the Fauverie a crawl of quayside traffic
while Aramis roars for his food, the air
turbulent as he opens his jaws in a huge
yawn. If I hold my breath, half-close my eyes
and listen hard — there at the tongue’s root,
in the voicebox of night, I might hear
the almost-vanished. He’s summoning his prey,
this lord of thunderbolts, calling to ghosts
of the Lost World, with this evening chant
to scarlet macaw, tapir, golden lion tamarin.
Until everything goes slow and the rush-hour
queue of scale-to-scale cars is one giant caiman
basking on the bank. The jaguar’s all
swimming stealth now — no sound — a stalker
camouflaged by floating hyacinths, senses
tuned only to the reptile of the road. Then, with
one bound, spray scatters like glass, as Aramis
lands on the brute’s back and bites its neck.

More Poems by Pascale Petit