Cougar Tracks

Cougar tracks in the red mountain soil

remind me of the wildness of this place.
Here, high above the Chihuahuan Desert
in the pinyon-juniper groves of the Guadalupes,
the ancient saga of hunter and prey continues
with little interference from man.

Yes, the grizzly and wolf have long since vanished,
but the cougar lives on, thriving in secrecy.
The big cat that walked here last night
was unhurried and unthreatened by man
here in this remote desert mountain range,
his tracks mute witness to his nightly wanderings.

This cat ambled across his vast territory
searching the wind for the sound and scent of deer,
alert for the presence of his rivals, or a mate.
The casual nonchalance implied by his prints
belies the alertness and readiness coiled in the cat,
ready to pounce and spring at the slightest scent.

Last night a cougar walked where I now stand,
a fact that marks this place as truly wild,
a wildness that takes my spirit to a higher place
where the world is primal and the soul of life free.
Ancient spirits pad upon the feet of a silent hunter
where cougar tracks marks the passage of life and death.

by Troy Hibbitts, March 1997