Click the play button below to listen to Robert Cording read “Key Marco Cat.”
Carved by the Calusa circa 500–800 CE
Half human, half panther, barely six inches high, and only a replica of the original totem, it’s placed before me on my desk to remind me of the concentration and discipline needed to live in the dark, to pass through the smallest opening in thickets of wildness and enter the grasslands as easily as water following the path always waiting for it to arrive. Legs folded under its body, the figure sits straight up, alert, an incarnation of stillness, of eyes looking everywhere at once. I look at this possibility of me rooted in the dark, invisibly still. What more could I wish to be than a being at rest, my arms and hands lying calmly on my folded knees as I grow less afraid, knowing what it is to become smaller, to disappear, as the panther does in what surrounds it, its view widening as it takes the shadows apart to see.