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The jaguar in the jungle
Hides in the light with the shadows of her coat
Hides in the shadows with the light of her fur
Camouflage colors
Random expression of various genes that somehow,
magically, manifest skin in the shades of her home
Not imitation but sympathy
A pattern too subtle, too varied to learn
A mottle deceiving the eye
A million hides for a million cats
All of them perfectly flawed

The cheetah in the savannah
Sits in the tree and waits
And wazungu in Toyotas watch
Where? Where?
Left, no left, no right, now up, no down, there, there
Long lens click and whir and click
The cheetah waits
Once seen she is easy to see
(How could we miss her?)
But as she waits she is part of the tree
She's gone
Where? Where?
Wind in the grass
Eases to ripples
Softens to swells
Wazungu wait
Watching where they think she is
And nearly nearly
And then again she's gone
No kill this time but gone
Upwind of the antelope
Ready to pounce
Unseen in the light of the morning

The silver rings I wear are presents from the universe
This from Neil for a couple of quid
These on the thumbs from Jane for Christmas,
one acid-soaked season in Goa
This with Dominique as part of a pair
This from Mexico, I think, the Yucatan
(Or was it Caernarfon? I have this sense of
a little shop near the castle, with Phil before
he met Elin … perhaps that was a bracelet?
no matter, never mind)
These from the Navajo outlet at the south rim of
the Grand Canyon
This from Heathrow (a part of the universe too,
an unlovely part but still), the Past Times Shoppe
but the runes were appealing to me (and the store
to my sense of the ridiculous)
Presents bought with money or love
There were more, there were more
The first from Jenny, a simple piece of silver with
a pattern that wore right off in the end, just before
the metal finally cracked
And the band that I wore for a while between the
joints of my middle right finger (or was that the
same one in its dotage?)
And a puzzle ring from Istanbul or somewhere
And probably others, lost in the years
Every one silver, none with a stone
Some of them shaped, or patterned with black
Half of them circlets, half open inside
All of them beautiful
All of them worn
Ageing into something together more than they had on their own

Neil has surely forgotten, it was part of the stock he
was clearing when his first little shop went bust
and he sold it off his finger on a visit to Perhap
Mansions where I was living then, deep in the
West of Ken
Jane remembers, I'm sure of that, though Jane isn't
Jane anymore
Dominique has hers, on the other side of the room
And the Mexican and the Navajo and the Brit in the
airport, they were just doing their jobs
But the rings remember, the rings are mine, as
I am theirs
Why do you wear all those rings on your fingers?
Because I can't fit them through me nose

(Never liked Ringo's much, didn't particularly admire that he wore them, he had no choice, they were just … him, part of him, and he no doubt of them)

In my head of course I understand that a guy who
goes around with rings on his thumbs and six
more on his fingers is going to get known for it
But it hurts when it happens
"Sure I know who you are, you're the guy with the rings"
The rings are with me

Everyone is the centre of a universe

No one in the west wore rings on their thumbs
Back when Jane had this pair made
Almost thirty years ago
(You see them on people quite often now, young
people; they're still a little weird for fifty)
I guess I might have said something
Or maybe she just knew
So she found a smith and got them made
And gave them to me
And I went
They're beginning to get thinner
(I've worn them almost all the time since, and
never normally take them off, not even
to bathe or to swim)
But they just better last me out
And they probably feel the same about me

I never go shopping for rings
But sometimes I recognize one
And we end up together

Listen to this: it matters
Yesterday I wanted to write about connectedness
and the way we are what we are in and
never know it, and I had thought to begin
with the jaguar from Makhijani's book
But when I sat down there was no jaguar in my mind
Only rings
And I went with the rings, and I didn't know why
I didn't even think they belonged
Today the jaguar returned
And the rings suddenly made sense to me
Eight rings to lead me, eight rings to find me
Listen to the inner voice
That's where poetry comes from
And love
And wisdom
You know better than you know
Never outguess yourself

Savannah lives in the cheetah
Jungle in the jaguar
The light and shade of the world outside
Expressed through the genes of the leopard

(What coat shall I put on today? The winter fur or the summer cotton? The good Republican cloth coat? The high-tech waterproof? The butch denim? The tailored leather or the zippered bomber? Oh tell me, tell me, do I want to stand out or do I want to blend in? Is it out of vogue to be in vogue or are the damn spots out again? Something in a light tan for the drier grasses, milord?)

Where does the outside end?
The jaguar and the jungle are one and the same
Home to each other
Incorporate excorporate breathe breathe
Jungle to genes, genes to fur, fur to jungle and back
How does the jungle adapt to the cat?
Mutate mutate transubstantiate

Children, children, come and see
Look, it's a cat in a zoo
(No hat)
That's not a cat, it's a leopard
No it's not, it's a panther
A lion (don't be silly)
No, a jaguar, a jaguar
Children, imagine what she's like in the jungle
where no one can see her
And here is a tree
And here is a flower
And here is a vine
And here is a monkey
And here is a snake (keep away from the snake,
he'll swallow you right up and eat you for dinner
today and tomorrow and tomorrow's tomorrow too)
And here is a butterfly
Isn't it pretty
Here is a bird
Look, look and listen to the song
And here is a can full of smells, just press
(we left out the bugs, you don't want the bugs)
Now do you see what the jungle is like?
Don't be scared
It's safe here
Safe to look
Is the jaguar happy?
I'm sure she is, dear, plenty of food every day,
none of that nasty hunting and worrying
and, look, see, a space to run and climb
See, she's smiling

The jaguar knows but cannot tell
The people tell but cannot know
Which of them lives in this world?

Those rings, those rings, don't they get in the way?
Less than a necktie

The jaguar knows how to live with the jungle
Only that, only there, only then
All of that, all of there, all of then
Is there more?

What are the shadows and light expressed in the
wearing of rings?
How should I know
Any more or less than the jaguar knows
Of the shadows and light expressed in the pattern
of skin?

The man with the bone in his nose
The woman with the rings on her toes
The people with paint on their shoulders and legs
Why not?

Ask me about the rings when I'm in the right kind of mood
And I'll give you theories
Overlapping, contradictory, superficially sensible,
probably plausible, reasonably rational theories
Looking at my body from the outside
Like a scientist looking at the jaguar's spots
And yes there might be a linkage
Yes there might be a semblance of fact
Yes there might be a logic
Yes you might think yes
And no
No, that ain't so, my friend, no, that ain't so at all
The rings just leapt from the world
Onto my fingers
Easy as suckling
And as hard to explain

Panthera onca facilitates both camouflage and optimal heat distribution through diversified coloration; sexy as anything, too

Panthera onca swallowed a conker
Found it as hard as Panthera pardus
Panthera uncia could be a nuncio
Sleeping all day like Panthera leo
Panthera tigris swam the Euphrates
Just to impress the Panthera ladies
Panthera panthera burning so bright
Panthera patterns give us a fright
Panthera tell me, panthera do
Did anyone make the jungle and you?