Sonnet for the Pennsylvania Mountain Lion


Ray claims he saw you with his own two eyes,
then tells me of the trappers’ stories, how
you tore a raccoon from its trap, then tried —
on that same night — to take down Yoder’s cow.

You are one of Ray’s many lies. It’s clear:
the deer that nibble apples on the hill,
that pause at night along the road, don’t fear
you, don’t startle at your scent. But still,

I’m quick to see you in the half-lit dark
spirit past the springhouse, a flake of moon
falling from your eye. I’m quick to mark
your track where sun has baked spring’s mud all June.

Ray says he’ll kill you true and take your head
to mount; I’d rather see you false than dead.


Shane Seely’s poems have appeared in West Branch, Prairie Schooner, River Styx, and on the Poetry Daily website. He teaches at Washington University in St. Louis.

First published in Measure, Volume 2 (2007)