How We Love
—National Geographic wild life cameraman John Varty captures Manana, a wild African leopard, in an unprecedented ritual of mourning
While the mother leopard foraged, a python lured her cub into its throat. When she found the den empty, python slow with new architecture, she tore until it surrendered the body black with digestive fluid, whole as she’d left him, barely dead. Last summer in Illinois, a woman was found under a pile of trash, her animals eating what was left of her. Neighbors said when her husband died, she stopped letting go of what passed through her hands. Even the leopard carried the cub’s body to a field close to her den, chewed it tenderly to pieces, swallowed each down. Even I still look for your effigy everywhere, practice your body until it is raw susurration, burned not by my throat but my heart. Which of us stays at her guttural refrain for days, though our love was never so close to our hunger? What is love but a set of urges? Hold the nape of the neck just so—carry the pieces of the body just so—
Sara Henning is the author of the full-length collection of poetry A Sweeter Water (2013), as well as a chapbook, To Speak of Dahlias (2012). Her poetry, fiction, interviews and book reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in such journals as Willow Springs, Bombay Gin and the Crab Orchard Review. Currently a doctoral student in English and Creative Writing at the University of South Dakota, she serves as Managing Editor for The South Dakota Review.
This week’s Wardrobe Best Dressed was selected by Erin Elizabeth Smith. Smith is the Creative Director at the Sundress Academy for the Arts and the author of two full-length collections, The Fear of Being Found (Three Candles Press 2008) and The Naming of Strays (Gold Wake Press 2011). Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Mid-American, 32 Poems, Zone 3, Gargoyle, Tusculum Review, and Crab Orchard Review. She teaches a bit of everything in the English Department at the University of Tennessee and serves as the managing editor of Sundress Publications and Stirring.