of your vision of me
so you can see who I really am?
Beyond a fanciful procession of animals
entering the ark
bathed in light?
I’m a head that’s one-third eyes
a winged body that can soar
power hides within
I’m eyes of the horse
round and profound
a sense of recognition of things beyond
a crocodile who sees your emotional world
with healing power
and a sense of humour
my leopard’s third eye searches the unknown
with faith and courage
for what will emerge
my cat-black iris and white slit pupil
look out with poise and interest.
There’s nothing to understand
it’s all about eyes
revealing nothing but more eyes
reflecting my searching eye
as you stare back through the deer’s vital eye
into the mythical world beyond
the red circle you thought was sun at sunset
recalls the ball of yarn and the blood
of those lost in the labyrinth
you see the ram fearful and alone
then as brave intermediary
honoured by animal deities
complementary coloured ravens
bring light to the people
as night wakens to day
and day bleeds into night
not everyone has the same vision
the part offered up readily
is a distraction
look to the subtle background.
We long for nature without danger
like a child’s storybook
toddlers and animals with no malice
across a chasm from adults
boy and coyote intermingled
a wondrous shared life energy
a land on which creatures stand
another creature itself
all the earth, God’s sacred mount
I want to stand with her
and take in the beauty and peace
of endless water
so I think about my static suppositions
as the sky turns ominously dark
offering a feeling of comfort.
How can I thank you for all that has been created?
Just a miracle would suffice
but you also create a future.
Yes, I hide my eggs everywhere
my tadpoles bloom in every puddle
I am the leaping, soft mystery of life
you hesitate to touch
Image: photo by Laura Duhan-Kaplan. Detail of a poster warning against the ash borer beetle, onto which someone has pasted a giant craft jiggly eye, now reflecting the photographer.
Poem: Written by members of the ALEPH Kallah class “Animals as Jewish Spiritual Teachers,” July 2018. After studying animals in Torah and midrash, we contemplated artistic images of various animals, and wrote our responses. Each class member contributed a sentence; Laura edited them together.