If a Lion Could Talk

A Poem from Jennifer Moxley's New Book, Druthers

February 23, 2018  By Jennifer Moxley


It was only the dawn
of the Christian
movement, but Jerome
was already wise
to it—he knew
that but for a man
who is not a man
trapped inside books
would latter-day painters
lose their perspective
somewhere along
the vanishing point.

So he tied his body to a
great denial and scolded
his widow patron’s daughter
for the crampy hungers
gathering in hers.

Leaving behind his
ascetic theater he let
his rags polish the floors
as he delighted in the
intercourse of a
little night reading.

The dog-faced lion
played along, shedding
the sweaty mane-cape,
rewarded each night for
his loyalty
with a bowl of kibble.

Jerome gazed out
of the casement
at a beautiful scene,
stars fanning the cool
expanse of lapis
desert dome,
and chuckled
to himself, “No one
paints a saint
in a great library
built through the pilfer
of a pious widow’s gold.”
A scholar, he knew
that sainthood, just like
good translation,
requires a bit of
finger pointing,
and some ethically
sleight of hand.


druthers Jennifer Moxley

From Druthers. Used with permission of the publisher, Flood Editions. Copyright © 2018 by Jennifer Moxley.

Jennifer Moxley
Jennifer Moxley
Poet Jennifer Moxley’s most recent collection is Druthers (Flood 2018). Her book The Open Secret (Flood 2014) won the 2015 William Carlos Williams award, and was a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts award. She is Professor of Poetry and Poetics at the University of Maine.

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