They are what swim, what fly, what run;
they are the eyes holding firelight
in fear-touched hunger.
They are the plural as single and the one as many;
striped and spotted, feathered and furred,
scaled or catching hair against brambles.
It is what we are, the upright in the bestiary.
We are no more and no less
than these. Amber intelligence
blinks back at me as the eagle
strips her catch from its bones,
daring me closer to wingspan,
hooked talons, razor beak.
I have memorized the calculations
of a great horned owl skimming night silent,
adding the scrape of claw on gravel
and grass to rodent whispers
into his sum and swallowing it whole.
I sing coyote inked in packs
and running down prey
through woods I say I own,
but they are borrowed.
We say we are over them, but
they were given mouths
they were given voices
they were given breath.
If I say truth is elemental
then it is: I am no more and no less
than this thing that bleeds and gasps,
caught in the jaws of something larger,
a link in the chain that tethers.