Animal poems - Cheetah

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NOTE: This page is a daughter page of: Animal poems


     ... statuesque, swift, graceful

A small gazelle looks off across the wild plains of east Africa.
A gentle breeze brushes through its legs and sends small ripples across the sea of long dry grass upon which it has been grazing.
The timid animal looks upwind towards the rest of the herd.
They are now a fair distance away.
Something is wrong.

With the patience and precision of an artists fine brush, a stealthy predator navigates below the surface of the grass.
Its sleek body, a beautiful artwork of muscular mammalian anatomy, slowly weaves between the blades of grass.
Its pronounced shoulder blades, and every muscle in its body, engage in a slowly seductive dance towards its prey.
The gazelle darts its head downwind. The breeze has stopped.
Something is wrong.

The cheetah freezes.
Each time the gazelle looks downwind, the cheetah remains rock still, camouflage and low to the ground. Patiently waiting to seize its moment, to gyrate forward, inch by tantalizing inch.
The gap has closed from fifty meters, to forty, to thirty and now almost twenty. The grass is getting shorter.
The cheetah can feel the heartbeat of the animal pulse through its neck. The time is close, the breeze dies completely, the grass becomes as still as the air.
Something is wrong.

The cheetah watches as the ears of the gazelle perk upwards in startled alert.
In its moment of extreme presence, focus and alertness, time slows down.
In slow motion, the shaken gazelle lowers its body then extends its legs to propel away.
Each microsecond counts, survival or death.
After hours of patient searching and stalking, the cheetah springs forwards in a explosive burst.

We know of the cheetah, it has a large heart, large nostrils and large lungs to help its speed. Most chases last only seconds, of weaving and dodging, in a fatal challenge of agility and speed. To the human eye, it seems a blur, a demonstration of incredible reflexes.

Yet what if the cheetah really did slow time. What if the chase itself, was not a intense race, but a slow dance.

In this dance.

The cheetah.

Does not go unrewarded.

Zero to one hundred miles per hour in three seconds, the skillful footwork of dancers, and finally the cheetah lands a paw on the rump of its prey. After the tumble, the animal recovers a millisecond too late.
Something is wrong.

The cheetah embraces the animal, and sinks its teeth into her neck, puncturing the vital artery. One life force extinguished so others can live. Two small furry cheetah cubs emerge from the grass minutes later, and eat the meat from the kill. This has been a good year for the mother, she has lost only one. She looks across the plains, worried for lions and hyenas, but none are to be seen.

One life force extinguished so others can live. As the gradually sun sets in a beautiful flood of fiery color, the three spotted creatures disappear once more into the grass.

            -- by Andrew Noske

About this Poem...

Animal: Cheetah
Description/motivation: I wrote this for a lovely girl from Chicago. I asked her what animal she most like, and I'm not convinced a cheetah represents her personality, but with this poem I did like the idea of vulnerability. Talking to a stranger is vulnerability sometimes. Cheetahs are recognized as lethal predators, but they are more delicate than people realize. These predators, despite their speed, their intelligence, and their strengths, are a highly vulnerable species. They cannot roar nor has the strength of lions or leopards. Cub mortality is very high, typically ninety percent of cubs can die in the wild, usually to lions, hyenas and sometimes even eagles or just starvation if their mother is unable to secure a kill. A cheetah chooses its battles carefully, it relies on speed and intellect instead of force. And of course, its biggest predator of all, has become man. It has been hunted to extinction in several countries - most notably the Asiatic cheetah in India, although there is a goal to try to reintroduce the cheetah to India. Are the lines down the face of a cheetah the lines of a warrior, or the mark of tears. Perhaps both.

This is one in a serious of poems I've written about various animals. The motivation, is that I love the idea of spirit animals, and I decided, one day, to ask many of my friend what animal they think best represents their personality. In some cases the poems are written with the person in mind... and sometimes it's purely about the animal. Read more about my process here. If you love this poem or want another written please e-mail me at :-)
This is an original poem by me!