Photo: (c) Jamie K. Reaser
Mayan relief from Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico
The jaguar gripped my hand
in his wet and gnashing mouth.
Wounds are mysterious things;
How they can speak out so long
after new skin and new stories
out of sight…
Sometimes it’s hard to put a
name to the old voice,
Mostly because there are so
Shame, grief, despair, anger, rage,
But it is a growl that is recognizable –
in the ear of memory,
or the pit of the stomach.
And, in the last breath of an addict,
the jingle of prison cell keys,
the door slamming on bruised and beaten hearts,
the moment that innocence is stolen.
And, in all the Self-betrayals.
In every act of prey turned predator.
Unlike other cats, jaguars kill
with a bite to the head.
When he takes you by the hand,
it’s an invitation to go
to where you have always
had an invitation to go –
Where Light’s canine teeth
It is here where wounds become
It is here where artists make vows to beauty,
musicians become composers,
poets transform poems into prayers,
prayers become a way of walking,
and the body begins to understand Love.
It is here where poison becomes Medicine.
Follow this path,
though it twists and turns sharply downward,
though it leads to the lair
of everything you have been avoiding…
for a long, long time.
Follow this Path,
though you realize:
You’ve already been here.
This is the cave of your Dreams.
All those nightmares were
perfectly inscribed love notes
from the lily-scented Underworld,
always beckoning you to claim the
potential of this place,
Calling on you to honor
your blood –
The red thread embroidering
the edges of the tapestry
in which past, present, and future
are continuously being
in a circle.
Back to the jaguar:
I have found him to be a trusty guide.
And, odd as it may seem,
Thanked him for the bite.
© 2013-2017/Jamie K. Reaser
Published in 'Wild Life: New and Selected Poems'