Become the Lion

Traci Brimhall

We keep my sister alive by force,
pin her down and nurse her with raw
eggs from the chickens that did not drown

and milk taken from a goat staked
to the ground. The dull tolling of the bell
around her neck speaks as she moves.

Here, I am here. She wanders to the river,
and we find her. In a tree, singing
to a starling, we find her. We dig a grave

for the missing body, but nothing
consoles her. In mourning, the cure
is the sickness. A year ago, a lion

took our mother as she tended the fire.
This hunger bewilders me. We found half
of her bones and buried her

uneaten heart in a dead cub's ribcage.
When we returned three days later
we saw no bones, no heart, only tracks

in the sand leading east. Ghost me. Fossil me.
Resurrect me near dawn. We're always at the mercy
of one menacing grace, one rite, an art

that makes us suffer twice. At night we wait
with our knives where the tall grass begins.
We will kill it or die or become the lion.