Carol Potter

Lion Cub & Whales
September 19, 2021 Potter Carol

Lion Cub
Sekmet also known as the “(One) Before Whom Evil Trembles”, “Mistress of Dread”, “Lady of Slaughter” and “She Who Mauls”.

We’d taken to being clever, or is that merely mischievous? We knew the difference between sensible and insane. The circus animals in the neighbor’s back yard should never have been there in the first place. We were at the age of clarity about so many things. Lions, tigers, one baby elephant, two bears. Why not take the lion cub home and let all the rest of them out? Everything looked tame and quite manageable. Mostly toothless, though when we opened the gate to the tiger’s cage, we realized we’d done something we might not want to have done. There’s lessons to learn, we knew that, and now and again you might have some time left in your life to apply those. No matter, we took the cub home. Grateful to us and glad for the attention, she stood over the bed until we went to sleep. She hid under the covers during the day. Our mother had no idea we had her though the room was starting to take on a peculiarly feral odor. Certain it was just the change of life happening to us, some blood, some breasts and hair– no one was that concerned. Everything gets a bit feral when it comes of age. When either parent walked into my room, they did so cautiously. Like they were entering foreign territory. Neighborhood chickens were beginning to disappear. And small dogs. When we pulled the covers up to our chins, there was that purring sound in the room. Like an engine idling somewhere out there in the village, but you’re not sure which street.


WHALES or You Can Be Guilty of Things You are Not Guilty Of

When the whales washed into shore because the seals had moved in and following them the great white sharks, we set up our tents on shore. Houses were falling in off the dunes and people came a long way just to see giant living rooms opening up onto the sea, couches, chairs, heirlooms falling out. Some said it was just desserts, taking up all that land. Having that much money. Some said it was the end of the world. The waves at second floor windows. The marble counters going back to the earth out of which they came. There’s always someone cheering for the end of it all; the killed dancing with the killers. A shout out to the boss. They’ve got their bunkers with guns and canned goods. Some reading matter. And out beyond the breakers, the dorsal fins slipping north to south and back again. As if the sharks were reading something to themselves. It’s what many of us do. If there’s something to read, we read it. The promises on the back of the cereal box. The letters on the wall. The flood levels on the fairground barns. This is how high the river was in 1978. This is how drowned you would have been if you’d been standing here then. Which is why many of us don’t stand in one place very long. You keep your feet moving. You know where the hills are. You know how to get there.

Carol Potter is the 2014 winner of the Field Poetry Prize from Oberlin College Press for her fifth book of poems, Some Slow Bees.  Other awards include a Creation Grant from the Vermont Arts Council, 2019, the 1998 Cleveland State Poetry Center award for her book, The Short History of Pets, and the Balcones award as well as a Pushcart Award and residencies at Yaddo, MacDowell, The Fundacion Valparaiso and Millay Colony of the Arts. Publications include poems in The American Poetry Review, Poetry, The Green Mountains Review, Hotel Amerika, Sinister Wisdom, The Kenyon Review, Hayden’s Ferry, The Massachusetts Review,  The Los Angeles Review, Poet Lore,  River Styx and the anthology of contemporary Vermont poetry, Roads Taken.