I believe I saw a black panther
leaping across a railroad track
in shimmer hot sunlight
a quarter-mile ahead of me.
The railbed, splitting thick forest,
blinkered my vision to an instant.
My companion, looking elsewhere,
said it must have been a bear.
I insisted I knew what I had seen,
and jogged up to search the spot.
Thinking back a reckless act,
but whatever crossed had disappeared.
There are legends and reports
that an ebony creature travels
the woods of maritime Canada,
often scoffed at, never proved.
Cougars again hunt the region,
but black cats are campfire tales.
The grace in that flickered leap
didn’t belong to a shambling bear
and I refuse to deny the presence
of a creature so rare and poised,
who roams the deep woods,
and lurks just beyond my sight.