A living legend has died.
Not of old age.
Advanced in years, Cecil walked always
as an ecological study of magnificence.
Treasured by rangers and tourists alike,
(adored may be too easy a word),
Cecil defined the spirit of wildness.
Known to stop cars in their tracks
as he padded along a dusty road,
he would lay his great body down
with its black standout mane
in a vehicle’s shade. “Shoot me,”
he might well have said
to lens-laden tourists. And fire
they did—leaving with prized shots.
They were trophies of a digital sort, not from
an arrow’s wound, not to be mounted
and hung, minus the tormented and skinned
body, not to be measured by weight,
heft and awesomeness, acclaimed
with purported prowess and bravado,
not flaunted in disregard of local
law, heedless of the now fatherless cubs,
likely to be killed by the next-greatest,
as lions are wont to do when claiming
the pride as their own. There is truth
in the old adage that cameras do not lie.
With their way of recording
and spreading knowledge,
they celebrate and preserve life.
Yielding unassailable booty,
they reach across the boundaries
of an enraged Zimbabwe—
a missing presence.
* * *
Legendary Trophy, poem by Mary O’Connor © 2015
Black-maned lion (though not as handsome as Cecil) at Ngorongoro, Tanzania. Photo by Mary O’Connor © 2010