February 2003

R. T. Smith


R. T. Smith R. T. Smith's Messenger (Louisiana State University Press) received the 2002 Library of Virginia Prize for Poetry. His forthcoming books are Brightwood (Louisiana State University Press), The Hollow Log Lounge (University of Illinois Press) and Common Wealth (University of Virginia Press). He is the editor of Shenandoah.
Bobcat on the Edge of Spring    Click to hear in real audio

Wild as a scowl, the bobcat
crosses the lawn, all feline stealth
and starlit plush.  His colors of honey

and snow creep through eyebright,
his breast parting thistle stalks
like a plowshare, his tufted eyes

twitching with vigilance.
Under the blind hunter Orion
he prowls out from his throne

in the shale cliffs after a rabbit
or plump housecat.  Pouncing,
he can blur to a whirlwind, all claws

and audible snarl.  Even the fox
and ocelot, sensing him, slink
deeper into their burrows.

He moves sleek as a shadow
past boxwoods, the compost heap
and neat suburban woodstack.

The moon over House Mountain
shimmers his gold fur.  Do bones
from sirloin scraps lure him,

or is it the whiff of chickens?
He is all current and yearning,
the one intruder night sparkles.

His eyes cast a glamour.
Does the well seep sweeter
for his passing or the wisteria sap

rise faster?  The dog at the window,
gazing across dark grass, whines
and shivers, his engine uncertain

if this is prey or a sovereign.
On the manicured verge where locusts
and spruce bristle like hackles,

the dream beast flashes his teeth
then marks the trash barrels
with brimstone piss,

and in the garden's turned soil,
a single footprint stamps his royal
seal, silhouette of an unearthly

yet longed-for blood lily.



R. T. Smith: Poetry
Copyright � 2003 The Cortland Review Issue 22The Cortland Review