Sentinel Champions August 2015. SLQ Poetry Competition. 2nd Prize Audrey Ardern-Jones

Lion in Chingola

strangers surround him,
touch his lifeless paws; I hold my father’s hand,
watch the bare-chested men
wipe their shotguns – expect his mouth to open,
to roar, to eat me up:

he lies centre stage in a bungalow lounge,
no bones, no flesh, a mouth with no tongue;
I stroke his quilt of beige-gold skin, uli musama*
tail-swipe my brother poking sixpences
through bullet holes:

outside, men slash sun-burnt grass,
inside my mother sleeps, curtains drawn
another migraine, the air dense.

*he’s beautiful (Bemba)

Audrey Ardern-Jones. 2nd prize August 2015