The Summer Lioness

Golden coat as autumn is gold,

Blue eyes as the sky is blue

When the summer singing through

Has not yet wearied or grown old:

So I saw her, so she was,

Lying asleep on a green hill,

One paw bathed by a tumbling rill,

Shining like the sunlight does.

She lifted her head, and her eyes

Pinned me with a gaze I could not flee,

Gazed into the soul and heart of me

With a look fierce, and fiercely wise.

Then she heaved herself to her feet,

Stood, and yawned, and shook her head,

Miraculous as a rising of the dead.

She drank from the blue waters fleet,

And bounded down the hill and away.

I stood for a moment as if frozen.

It was not something I would have chosen,

To see a lioness that day.

A week later, and the summer green

Well settled in the leaves had become.

Then the summer lioness struck me dumb

When playing in the woods she was seen

By me as I went to fetch the water.

She leaped and swatted at the trees,

Whipping leaves loose with her claws' breeze.

She shone like the sunlight's daughter,

Sent from some palace beyond the light.

She roared, and the sound was of flutes,

Of striking drums, of harps and lutes.

She gazed at me in her flight,

And I was struck dumb once again

By the sheer beauty and grace of her,

More delicate than autumn's whisper

Barely touching the forest then.

She somersaulted, leaped, and like dawn

That in sky shines only a short while,

She leaped into golden exile

Deeper into the wood, and was gone.

I saw her then on the edge of autumn,

Pacing slowly on the hill

Where there flowed the tumbling rill.

I knew at once her death had come.

The golden coat had darkned in hue

To a russet like that of the leaves

That hung on the trees in fading sheaves.

Her eyes had faded from their blue

To a pale color, like the foul smoke

That rises from the human fires.

Her face spoke of lost desires

As her steps the loud silence broke.

I gazed on her, met her eyes,

And I saw in her the truth and pain:

She would not come until summer again

Came back, until summer's sunrise.

She laid herself down, her gold hide

Cooling slowly into the ground.

No more could she leap or bound.

I watched over her as she died,

And (even now my heart grieves)

Saw her change and melt away.

The summer lioness on her last day

Became a pile of withered leaves.