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Friday, August 12, 2022


by David Chorlton

“El Jefe,” a jaguar last seen in Arizona nearly seven years ago, was spotted in the Mexican state of Sonora last year, researchers confirmed recently, reviving hopes that the species can thwart the border wall that bisects its natural habitat. Above: El Jefe in the Santa Rita Mountains in Arizona on April 30, 2015(AP). Below: El Jefe is seen in the central area of Sonora, Mexico in November 2021(AP). —The Washington Post, August 10, 2022

Land remembered
from the distance of a century
turns into rock and light afloat
on a thread of water
that runs down from a mountain and sings
to the stones in its path.
Here comes night with the moon in its teeth.
Here comes a prayer
with blood on its lip and a heart
that beats time with a past
it’s come to reclaim. When belief
has soaked back into sky
the sky wears a pelt
cut for survival as all the land beneath it
turns mysterious blue
and a jaguar at a water hole
licks away the stars. He’s invisible
all the way inside himself
and quiet as a holy man who went
into the desert for its solitude.
He’s shed one country’s language. Its grammar
ran as liquid through his limbs
and he spat out punctuation every time
he moved in for a kill. Here’s a pool
of thirst.
             A red cloud of breath.
Some bones.
                   A heartbeat running

David Chorlton is a longtime resident of Phoenix. While jaguar sightings are ever elusive, he is content to know that the big cats have allies in their quest for survival, such as the Northern Jaguar Project.