The Beast in the Garden
Pecking and pecking at the chicken-coop wire
The chicken cannot hear the chicken-keeper;
Eggs fall apart; their shells cannot hold;
Loose embryos are spilled into the world,
The bloody yolks are spilled, and everywhere
Sustainable ingredients are spoiled;
Chefs waste in the kitchen, while the birds
Scratch at scraps with passionate intensity.
Surely a food revolution is at hand;
Surely some regional cuisine is at hand.
The Seventh Cuisine! Hardly’s the joke out
When a totem out of Mutual of Omaha
Starts from nowhere—The Seventh Cougar,
Face with lion body and the tread of a feather,
Night-eyed and pitiless, ranging as the moon.
It twitches tipped ears, and before it
Flee the horns of the abundant urban deer.
The wild vanishes—but won’t disappear
When twenty hundred thousand years of terror
Shoot the hot blood when it’s our flesh stalked,
And the predator, its buck passed round at last,
Crouches behind Chez Panisse, and is shot.
Jim Fisher first circulated “The Beast in the Garden” on handbills, following the shooting of a mountain lion around the corner from Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California in 2010. A former Stegner Fellow in poetry at Stanford, Fisher is a frequent contributor to the online magazine DIAGRAM, including a divination card in last year’s 20th anniversary tarot deck, 20 of DIAGRAMS.
This poem was originally published in Vallum issue 13:2 The Wild.
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