In Pursuit

C. Dale Young


Her feet, at first racing through the trees
with the quickness of an antelope, her body
throwing itself forward, hurling itself, the speed
of it like a drug, the speed of it
a necessary thing to escape the god

—no one has yet to convince me that the response
to her cries for help was a blessing—then the feet
slowing and denser, growing heavy, heavy,
then fixed, the toes curling into the dirt
and taking root, the bark rising up

from the surface of her skin, the skin
prickling and tender as the bark restrained her,
the arms suddenly captured in the motion of surrender,
her arms held out on either side of her,
her hair falling out and then the leaves,

newly green, almost silver, ripping through
the skin, through the bark, the leaves delicate and fine,
the leaves marking her not as a young woman but as
a tree, a laurel tree, the very leaves torn from her and
fashioned into a crown by the god.

So few of these transformations are ever a blessing.
So, it isn't as if I had been lacking preparation.  
You could say I had studied for it, sat patiently
with those old metamorphoses for years. My
shy hunter has never read these tales, would

likely find them silly. What he says is See that grouse
over there? Shoot it.
And I do. I don't even
question it. Sometimes, my skin feels prickly,
and I wonder if another transformation is about
to take place. But no one is ever transformed twice.

No one. Ovid understood this. Even Suetonius
understood this. The gods have little use for us once
we have been changed. They take the laurel leaves,
scorn the wounded bird, erase their tell-tale foot prints,
busy themselves with the generous work of gods.