In the Jardin Des Plantes the panther

(the hollow in its flank a sculptor’s nightmare)

narrows eyes as green as malachite;
the poet set to cage it in a sonnet

notes dutifully the power, the grace
turning and turning in its narrowed space

under that electric fur the dart
of nerves, the hammering heart –

he knows. The panther never stops its circle
around the still point – scribble, scribble –

then just at one half-turn pauses to stare
straight through the eyes of metaphor.

A C Clarke