Jaguar Girl

Her gaze is tipped with curare,

her face farouche

from the kid’s asylum

where ice baths

failed to tame her.

Her claws are crescent moons

sharpened on lightning.

She swims through the star-splinters

of a mirror

and emerges snarling –

my were-mama,

She’s a rainforest

in a straitjacket.

Where she leaps

the sky comes alive, unleashed

from its bottle,

my mother trying to conceal

her lithium tremor

as she carries the Amazon

on her back,

her rosettes of rivers

and oxbow lakes,

her clouds of chattering caciques,

her flocks of archangels.

Her own tongue is a hive

that stings

Page Break

yet pollinates

all the orchids of the forest.

Her ears prick

to the growl of roots

under concrete,

the purr of plants growing,

My Animal Mother,

shaman’s bitch,

a highway bulldozed

through her brain,


into a trembling rabbit

whenever I’m scared of her.

She who has had electric eels

pressed to her scalp

can vanish into backwoods

where no one can reach her.

I’m trying to sew her

back together,

to make a patchwork

of gold dust

and ghost vines,

a sylvan pelt

of torn-down trees,

the shadow dance

of leaves on litter.

I’m trying to conjure her

in her zoo cage

as the doctor comes

running to dart her.

from Mama Amazonica (Bloodaxe, 2017), copyright © Pascale Petit 2017, used by permission of the author and the publisher

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