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 seventh collection of poetry is Blood Weather, from LSU press. She is a recipient of two Pushcart Prizes and inclusion in Best American Poetry. She has been published in Poetry. Ploughshares, The Gettysburg Review, The Georgia Review and many others. Professor emerita of English and creative writing at the University of Indianapolis, she lives in Milledgeville, Georgia, where she was Poet-in-Residence at Georgia College.