Jaguar Song

—Just after you sign and envision building homes on this tract you smell me in the dark
know that I move through this terrain at night   though you only think of building 
and selling   even now you believe you can borrow my spirit by wearing a mask of my
face on your face   look at me   delve into your fears   is your deepest fear to be hacked 
strangled or be strapped to an IV in a bed with no chance to die   I can grasp a turtle 
and break its shell with one bite   I can pounce on a deer and crush its skull and neck 
with my teeth   you slash and burn in the jungle   force the snakes and macaws to retreat 
you even burn your own species alive   look into my eyes  I am your mirror and
transformer if you destroy my species I will shape-shift and hunt you in your dreams   
the fingerprints of your hands resemble the black rosettes on my skin and you will not
escape   you will never comprehend the twin nights in my eyes   remember as a child 
you came up the steps from the basement and flicking off the light at the top of the stairs
feared a hand about to grasp your shoulder from behind   that fear is alive   and now 
as you rummage for keys at your apartment doorstep I am a passing jogger about to
pounce I am the creature who smells your darkest thoughts   and as you turn the key 
in the lock day or night out of the darkness I spring—

Originally published in Michigan Quarterly Review Online. Copyright © 2021 by Arthur Sze. Used with the permission of the poet.