Vis Inertiae

To the jaguar at the Museum of Natural History


          You appear
bulk of muscle with broad shoulders, your jaws

made for splitting the world’s skull, gutted,
skin stretched & stuffed, as thin morning
pours over God’s chipped incisor,

the distant mountain, spurs
of promise, but the valley still pinched
          in bruises of shade.

Over aeons you have rounded, compacted;
your limbs shorter, face less angular, mossy ponds of your irises
swallowed by sap.

Hardened, here, after all that. Somewhere
you are ready to cannon
into the dilating valley                        or hunker down
                                                                         and thaw into the dark
                                                                         drum again

that thrums without glass
or buckets of amber eyes:

old spark born back
                            into the purring pyre, the earth

       alive again, incarnate with the reentry
       of your ore into its vein.

Maximiliane Donicht

Maximiliane Donicht is from Munich, Germany, and is the author of Bees of the Invisible (Finishing Line Press). She once worked as a pastry chef in Paris, practiced classical Japanese swordsmanship in New York, and now lives in Taipei, where she eats an ungodly amount of purple sweet potatoes. She holds an MFA in poetry and literary translation from Columbia University. Her poetry has appeared in Ecotone, Cold Mountain Review, The London Journal of Fiction, and Bone Bouquet, among others. Her translations have been published in Gulf Coast Journal and online at The Grief Diaries and Columbia Journal. Her translation of Dr. Thomas Höllmann's "The Chinese Script" was published by Columbia University Press. Her website is maximiliane.co.uk.