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Clutch

Brisk and fresh, the sun arises,

Paints the trail with light,

Winding up the mountain slant—

A hiking man’s delight.

 

My son and I, we love this spot.

My boy? He’s 10 years old.

Side by side, we walk the path

As daylight turns to gold.

 

We revel in our sacred trek,

Enjoying nature’s space.

We reach the crest where heaven is,

Received into its grace.  

 

We spend the moments looking on

Toward the endless bliss.

We find a shady spot to sit

And drink in every this.

 

As time compels, we turn back down,

Rejoining with the trail,

Descending down the spiral slope,

A staircase without rail.

 

And then, without an inkling,

My glance sees something there.

Through the trees, a cougar lurks.

My vision meets his glare.

 

Our eyes lock for a moment.

My stomach starts to sink.

I halt my son with gestures.

I dare not even blink.

 

Audaciously I stand my ground.

I shout! I shriek! I cuss!

He moves like liquid lightning.

He’s here. On top of us.

 

He hits me with a forceful blow!

I tumble to the ground!

His jaws emerge to meet my flesh.

It makes an awful sound.

 

I hear my son start screaming!

I can’t tell where he’s at.

My faculties and senses

Are consumed beneath the cat.

 

His claws are quick and thoughtless!

I feel them enter in,

Tearing through the tissue

Of my shoulders and my chin.

 

My defense quickly fails me.

He’s strong and deft and skilled,

His confidence emboldened

By the other things he’s killed.

 

Positioning his victim,

He clamps onto my skull.

He wants to calm my thrashing

And make my struggle null.

 

His fangs are low and scraping.

I’m smothered by his breath.

It’s hot and vile and noxious.

It reeks of rotting death.

 

He chomps down on my cheekbone.

I’m just his playful prop.

With ease he shreds through muscle.

I feel my tendons pop!

 

He grinds and chews. He gnaws and bites.

I hear a muffled thud.

I feel the flesh give way to clout.

I smell the stench of blood.

 

But something deep inside me

Contends against my plight.

Flight is not an option now,

So all I have is fight!

 

Exhausted and depleted,

I find some strength to bout.

“This isn’t over, damn it!

I’m down but I’m not out!”

 

I angle for some leverage.

I rebound from the clash.

I free my arm from underneath.

I punch and slam and bash!

 

With all my might I whirl and strike,

But he absorbs each blow.

His grip just tightens as I flail.

My strength and passion slow.

 

But giving up is not the plan!

I won’t go ‘til I’m gone!

And images of my prized boy

Burst in and cheer me on!

 

And then…

 

I hear a faint commotion.

They’re storming up the path!

Like superheroes from the void

To save me from his wrath!

 

Three strangers join the chaos.

They’re armed with rocks and stones.

Their presence relays power.

It surges through my bones!

 

I joust with newfound spirit!

They pummel him with rocks!

The cat’s demeanor changes…

His ship of rampage docks.

 

A perfectly placed boulder

Strikes him square and true.

He jumps back and releases me—

An outcome overdue!

 

He scampers off into the brush.

 

The clamor morphs into a hush.

 

“Where’s my son!” I cry out!

A woman answers back.

All the sounds are muffled,

And everything goes black.

 

I wake up in the hospital.

I feel a gentle touch.

My son grabs on with trembling hands.

Embrace turns into clutch.

 

We may never let go.

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