Dear Fisher Cat (martes pennanti),
Never seen you in the flesh. I’ve seen
a cousin, martes martes, stuffed, in a shop window
in Bavaria, where they chew wiring in cars,
and martes zibellina turned
into a coat, thicker than mink, the price of a house.
I tried it on, with awe.
I watched martes fiona on YouTube,
the woman holding the camera cooing
while the small, shy animal
nosed around her terrace in the English countryside.
Your name in Croatian, Kuna, is currency.
Seven million years old, much older than homo,
and certainly sapiens. Trapped to the brink
of extinction, you came back.
You are to the others as the javelina is to the wild boar,
a new world clade. Neither fisher nor cat.
Some people love bears or whales
or whooping cranes; I love you:
your sweet round ears and button nose,
your fur heavy as the robe of a queen,
your claws unsheathed in paws
the size of a child’s hand. You could be a toy, a cartoon,
a pet, if it weren’t for your carnivorous drive,
your solitary soul. Your jaws can kill a porcupine,
attacking snout first from below, eating it inside
out. You cross the narrowest
gap in the forest opening. You sleep in the crook
of a beech in old growth canopy. I’ll see you someday,
close range. I’ll be the rabbit
curled in a corner of the parsley garden
and you—you’ll be there, unnoticed
until too late, to swallow all the sounds my gullet makes.