“Watching Wildlife in the Grand Canyon National Park”
Not homeless but without house, home, or family,
I thought I’d go out into the woods and find peace being alone.
Having only camped in relative wilderness or with roving bands of fire-spinners,
I didn’t realize how different national parks would be.
At the Red line stop around the South Rim, a lion waiting just ahead
with three blonde cubs insisted I sit with his kin on the shaded bench
while he stood, taking the sun’s pounding. He quizzed them on their favorite everything—
princess, place to shop, pool they’d swum in, earlobe (—“left”—“why?”).
When the smallest cubs starting slapping and yapping, lion and lioness united
with the simple peacemakers’ dictate: “Stop and move on.”
When I exclaimed what great parents they were being, they laughed and said
I caught them at the best two minutes. But they beamed, and I turned away
to search the far horizon for antelope, hoping no one would see me cry.
On the next bus, an Indian girl and an Okie peeked-a-boo through bars
atop the bus seat between them. When Miss India debarked, the remainder turned to me,
grabbing my shoulder and laughing, holding my hand, giddy as I counted her fingers,
her most basic instinct not to eat, sleep, fight, flight, or fuck, but touch.
On the next bus again, another pack surrounded me,
the females of the species watching from behind while the males played fight in front.
The adult male kept batting the offspring’s bright blue ballcap,
before stealing it and grinning as his cub cracked up punching his paunch.
How do you know when touch is kind, even punches?
I think you have to feel it, just like you can’t reason out why if you have no place,
the world is yours, these magical lands that we own, and them us—
talking lions, dancing wildflowers, bus drivers, small children, and tourists all.
And what’s more, they want you as you are, as you have always been,
and as you might be—with all your grace drawn up and out
by all this beauty, love, and space.