Mistress of the Hunt

In the trees around her the wind is blowing,
Tossing the leaves as it prances like her steed,
Impatient to start, impatient to be going.
She makes both of them with a word take heed,
And then sends the wind out before her like a hound,
While she follows on her steed to run the prey to ground.

Beside her, coming from the thick and dark green,
Tigers run, their fierce sunny bodies fluid and lithe,
Their paws soft on the ground as the swift unseen
Snappings of the serpents that in the bushes writhe,
All of them intent on accompanying the huntress
Out of the jungle, servants for their great mistress.

Then the jungle shifts, and shivers, and melts away,
And she is riding through the grass of a great golden plain,
Glowing as dazzlingly as a ring of fire in the bright day,
So bright that her steed throws his head and snorts in pain.
Then she leans forward over his neck, and touches his horn.
Lighter then he runs, more like antelope than unicorn.

Beside her come to course the animals of the grassland:
The cheetahs with spots like small black suns in a gold space,
The lions with their coats as tawny as shoreside sand,
The hunting birds that overhead like her arrows race.
They have been beside her, always, now and long once;
They have been beside her on all her long hunts.

Then the grassland's turn comes to transmute and transform,
And it melts into a glinting desert beneath the brass sun,
With the distant dark rising of an approaching sandstorm.
The unicorn, tireless as a stream to the sea, continues his run,
And the huntress throws back her head, to sniff and laugh
After the wind that leads her and marks out her path.

And then the desert animals pour of their caves to her:
The elf owls that live in the holes of the cacti,
The sidewinders that in odd patterns the sands stir,
The cougars who have come prowling down from on high.
They follow her, and she cries out in a cry thrilling and sweet,
Rising, and lingering, and then dying away under the heat.

Then the desert turns around her into a numberless flow,
And the wind's ruffling shows her, across the green ocean
The way to hunt out the tracks of the beasts skimming below,
And to feed and fill her heart with a cry of tameless emotion.
The unicorn's hooves fall sweet and sure as would destiny,
As he carries his rider to the north, across the boundless sea.

And the sea's children come to her, as have the beasts all:
The dolphins who dance on the ship's bow-wave when it rides,
The sharks who on the fish like a plague of blood fall,
The sperm whales who can tear out a squid's deep insides.
They twine all about her, flicking spray and foam from their tails,
Their high keening cries and silences joining with her own wild wails.

And then she rides on, to another place altogether,
And the ocean fades around her into the heart of dark silence.
She throws back her head to look straight up at faery weather,
And somewhere in the distance her quarry cries in defiance.
She laughs, and follows the wind on the back of her unicorn,
By a hunt lured where can follow no creature of this earth born.