Bestiary for the End Times

Balkan Lynx (Macedonia)
The day the Balkan lynx went missing
Dionysus wept, and the milk of Montenegran
sheep was curdled in its depths.
The milk of Montenegro’s sheep
stained black with oaken gall
soaked through the fractured karstic caves
with bison on the walls. The bison drank
the blackened milk and fed until they slept
the day the Balkan lynx went missing
and Dionysus wept. When the Balkan lynx
shrunk in her den to hide her dying pups
the Balkan sky grew dark again
and all the grapes and all the wine went
spilling from their cups. Her wiry coat
and wary glance as she hunted rabbits down
were the last of all the bristling things
that stilled the winds and songbirds’ wings
and vibrated the ground. When the Balkan
lynx goes missing from the rocky hills of Thrace
the springs run dry, the buzzards cry, the mountain
hides its face; the piedmont flowers wilt
and sour, the very granite shrinks –
the farmers say, because the lynx
left nothing in her place.
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