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.