Alice Friman

The Encounter
February 19, 2021 Friman Alice

The Encounter


Drizzle and formless
as it was in the beginning–
and from the mist, stepping out
as if parting a curtain,
an apparition appeared in the
discovery end of my binoculars.
I stood on a hill peering down
into a valley somewhere
in Tanzania, when
in all her tawny grace
as if she were being created
before my eyes, a lone lioness
padded deadly and deliberate
out of the fog. No hunting partners,
no sisters, no back-up.
No blood smear on her face,
no tell-tale sign of a night’s
feed and frenzy. Not yet.
Only the rocking gait, the low-slung jaw,
the terrible aptitude for patience.
She was queen and knew it.
Didn’t baboons shriek
and zebras take off in a blur
of stripes? Didn’t the vultures
circle, eyeing every move she made?
And didn’t the baobab–that mythic tree–
lift its bird-filled arms
for them to mark and remember
how under their sunny chirping, always
the muted thunder of her step.

Alice Friman’s eighth collection of poems, On the Overnight Train, is a New & Selected due out from LSU Press in February. Her last books, also from LSU, are Blood Weather, The View from Saturn, and Vinculum which won the Georgia author of the year award in poetry. A recipient of two Pushcart Prizes and included in Best American Poetry, she’s won many prizes and has been been published in Poetry, Ploughshares, Plume, Georgia Review, Gettysburg Review, Crazyhorse, Poetry East, Massachusetts Review, and many others. Her website is