Mountain Lion

During the summer of 1998, after a visit to Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico,
I became intensely interested in Zuni fetish carvings.
Although the carvings the Zunis make and sell
are not ceremonially blessed, for me they are beautiful art
with profound spiritual meaning.
Here is one of many poems inspired by such carvings;
the mountain lion, done in traditional style with the tail on its back,
was carved by Anderson Weahkee, a member of one of the most
prominent families at Zuni who make fetish carvings.
"Mountain Lion" is included in my book,
The Alchemy of Opposites
(St. John, KS: Chiron Review Press, 2000).

Mountain Lion

Your defects make you complete.
I see the shaping instrument,
the wheel that followed the dark green
serpentine lines, parallel, deep green
in black, your neck almost half
the phallus of your length.

Tell-tale traces of polishing compound
declare the maker's deft hand,
Zen-like heed,
accidental gouge from the right-hand
side of your mouth,
the middle right claw.

The point on your left side
matches the point of the shell
arrowhead, yellow for North,
tied with powerful sinew,
turquoise & coral--your gift.

Your reach points the way,
tail parallel on top, a fearful
mystery, your grin, loyal
to my constitution, my longest,
most heavy, spirit animal of the North.

Copyright © 2000 Clifton Snider


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Go to Art and Poetry II.
Go to Native Themes and Art and Poetry.
Go to Shalako.
Poetry and Criticism.
New Age.
Go to a new poem on The Cave of Niaux.
Go to a new poem on Le Mont Saint-Michel.
Go to My Selena.
Read about my early books of poetry and my new book, Aspens in the Wind.

Read about my novels, Wrestling with Angels: A Tale of Two Brothers, Bare Roots, and Loud Whisper.

Page last revised: 22 August 2009