Tableau à la Rousseau
by David R. Slavitt
That lions like lavender is amiable; for the mane’s
tawny to find complement in the green
spike with sharp accent of the blossom
is not mere whimsy, as delight in catnip
would be, but somehow right. One can nearly
see in those slow yellow eyes a need to express
the innate refinement lions have, and lavender
must be a relief from the flesh-red, blood-red
redness of their usual provender
and the bloody obviousness of crimson with gold.
Or, it may be the odor, or
just to adore such a vegetable vegetable.
It extends the range of lions, even as they
extend its possibilities: they may
love most to patronize, to let it be said
that among the lovers of lavender are lions.
David R. Slavitt is the author of over 80 books — nonfiction, novels, poetry collections, and translations. Recent books include the poetry collection, Seven Deadly Sins (LSU Press); a translation of Sophocles’ Theban Plays (Yale U Press); and the forthcoming essay collection George Sanders, Zsa Zsa, and Me (Northwestern U Press). The above poem is used by permission of the author and can be found in his 2005 collection, Change of Address: Poems New and Selected.