Old Haunts

In the wild such a sight is never seen.
Our natural mother is much too thrifty.
She cuts her threads clean, and very short;
no cords are allowed to unravel
into frayed ends.
Only here could arthritis claim the bones.

Our old, limping hunter needs a cane.
His yellowed skin appears about to shed.
His stripes badly need a bleaching.
His cataract eyes are no longer burning bright
His universe--a concrete cage
on which his claws have done their work,
wearing the stone thin like countless rains on mountain stones.
His piece of the world is strictly measured in square feet.
He paces in a featureless world.
Only the food tray punctuates the monotony.
Leave the cage door ajar 
and there would be no fearful lunge
down the corridor and into the park,
no roar, no quick scattering of crowds.
Rather he would sit and lick his claws
salivate, and go no farther
than to stick his face out of the cage.
The corridor between the cage
would be too long a road back for him,
like that time long ago
when as a yelping cub
he would venture no farther than his earthen den.
The unknown world outside
could not yet wean him from his fierce mother,
The very young and very old
are prisoners of the familiar.

Richard Fein