Geoffrey Brock

The Beautiful Animal

By the time I recalled that it is also

terrifying, we had gone too far into

the charmed woods to return. It was then


the beautiful animal appeared in our path:

ribs jutting, moon-fed eyes  moving

from me to you and back. If we show


none of the fear, it may tire of waiting

for the triggering flight, it may ask only

to lie between us and sleep, fur warm


on our skin, breath sweet on our necks

as it dreams of slaughter, as we dream

alternately of feeding and taming it


and of being the first to run. The woods

close tight around us, lying nested here

like spoons in a drawer of knives, to see


who wakes first, and from which dream.



“The Beautiful Animal” first appeared in New England Review, Spring 2003 (vol. 24, no. 2).