Fall 2014

Edited by Andrea Spofford | Barry Kitterman | Amy Wright


Child Watching a Nature Documentary

Alex Chertok

If my mother were a mother leopard,
she’d never blink at rain, not at the ripped scrim
of its first seconds or, head back, into the  
floodlight of its full-blown fall. She’d spy a fawn

till a moth flutters up and drinks from her eye. 
She’d lift me by the scruff with her teeth.
She’d never flinch at the small cry a small 
neck breaking makes, since food is life and death 

and tough to come by in the wasteland of
our grasslands. If she were a mother leopard
she’d keep me close, then let me roam for good
far from our den, and never say a word. 

She’d scarf meat off the bone as the sky pours down 
its silt of sun, and not wince when a dram 
of its blood smears her cheek. She’d eat fruit whole, 
pit and all, rip its purple skin. A plum 

would not be a plum tree’s foundling come 
alive in her hand. She wouldn’t bite
as if into her own blenching lip 
or the soft, fleshed-out ovary of a flower. 

Hidden seeds wouldn’t echo from the drupe’s 
stone heart. It wouldn’t soak her fingers red
with hurt. She’d scan the staid savanna. 
She’d know that bitten, downcast eyes would wake 

the sleeping hunters, do her in, would
fill her killer’s mouth with her pitiful song.

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