One of the poems in Candle, Thread, and Flute that I always get a lot of reaction to is “Snow Leopard, Bronx Zoo,” in which a mother snow leopard mourns that her zoo-born daughters can only
bound over unnatural boulders
to the tops of unnatural crags
whose mitigated steepness assures survival,
whose artifice conceals the cage doors.
Here is a wonderful video from the Snow Leopard Trust, filmed in Kyrgyzstan, that shows the life my snow leopard mother wishes for her family–and that I wish for all of these beautiful, amazing cats:
“IF WE DON’T TURN THE WHEEL, IT WILL NOT TURN”
Our ancestors in their simplicity,
we hear, believed the spent midwinter sun
would die at last and never rise again
without their rites—so every turning of
the seasons had its keeping and its forms,
and failure in them meant the end of all.
“Now we know better”—or do we know less?
In the pattern’s loss, what have we gained?
The days we set aside to mourn the sun
or drive the cattle through the fires or bless
the fields joined our spirits, bodies, minds
to the moving heart of all. We did not turn
the earth upon its axis—what we turned,
and still might turn, was purely our own souls.
(from Candle, Thread, and Flute)