Photo by Priscilla Du Preez

My great-grandmother shot a panther through the flimsy roof

Mountain lion she called “a ole painter”

Her shot went straight and true through the ceiling and on through the rotting roof,

Into the belly of the big cat as it clawed and dug at the splintered and tarred roof

The mountain lion must be hungry to be so bold

Desperately trying to get inside to eat her babies

Dead, she meant to shoot it

The crack of the old rifle scared the youngest who cried out

The panther fell off the roof and onto the ground with a thud,

And then looking at the black mountain lion on the ground

She saw the skinny animal had her own babies

Hidden in a den somewhere

Great-grandmother looked in the lion’s eyes

The cat stared back

Mutely, instinctively they understood each other

She allowed no one outside to look

At the dying mountain lion

Until poppa got home

She moved for a good while as blood ran out of her belly

Poppa shot her in the head to end her suffering

Shame the kits will die, poppa said.

Grandmother started supper

Tears running down her face

Former print journalist, former mayor, retired law enforcement officer. Writing about politics and government along with random personal essays.

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