As the story goes, a monk
is chased by a tiger off a cliff
and, falling, seizes a branch—
but a slight one.
As it starts to give way, he picks
a strawberry growing in the rocks
and pops it in his mouth, saying
The rest is left untold,
so we could go on to say
many are the strawberries,
all delicious, such as the oyster
that can still form a shell and grow
large enough to grace a plate,
likewise the sighting of a pink river dolphin
or its dark-eyed distant cousin the vaquita,
reefs’ slow kaleidoscope riot
and plainer, but still delicious,
the salamander’s underwater paddling.
No less delicious, barely above water,
the sidewalk pulse of Manhattan
and the flamboyances of Miami Beach.
If land and sea cannot retain
these savories and sweets, we might yet
hold them fast in ledger and scroll
lest some generation call them mere legends,
so that more than faith may support the claim
delicious, as well, the tiger.
About the writer:
J.D. Smith is a graduate of the University of Houston Creative Writing Program. In 2007 he was awarded a Fellowship in Poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts. Smith’s fourth collection, The Killing Tree, was published in 2016. He is currently at work on both poetry and fiction collections.
Image: “Abstract: Bishkek Passing Car,” photograph by James Metelak, Oklahoma Photographer in Kyrgystan