The Lions of Orange County
BY JOSEPH FASANO
for Lucie Brock-Broido
In February of 1973 a local man purchased a pair
of mountain lions and released them into the woods
of Orange County. He had shaved the names of his
lost daughters into their fur.
– news item
Cut it, you said. Cut.
is the world, it is more precious
lessened. If this is the world, it is more.
Love, you said, and meant
a thousand doves loosed from the ruins
of the church of you.
Trouble, you said, and meant it.
Once, you said, once
there was another world. It came to you
like lions through the common things, lashing their tails
You said the heart
is the medieval basilica, flawless and unfinished
in a great plague.
You said winter, it was always almost winter.
(You had to. You had to remember.)
Tell it, then:
you were the child
in the troubled well.
Once you were a relic
in your own hands,
intricate and buried there forever.
Look at them, the lions
in the tree-line, their blonde chins on each other’s wintered
This is what we do: we live on.
like feral things in the fir trees, intricate and bewildered
by the script in us.
what is written
in the flesh of us.
Rest, now, your lionhead
Teach us what to do, sweet
with the incredible afterlives we are.