YOU ASK ME WHAT I FEAR
You ask me what I fear. The answer is that I fear very little. I stand tall above the grasses and can gaze across far plains, spying any animals long before they get close enough to trouble me. And I am fleet of foot, as fast as the north wind which cuts across the grasslands like a knife. So, when enemies get close, those prowlers of the night who creep up on me and mine in the darkness, I laugh in their face and race clear of their clutches. Yes, I fear very little.
The only thing I do fear is one of my own kind. Another male, another leader, who can run as fast as me and who has fierce companions who may seek to hem me in and bite my throat. This I fear and for this I am watchful.
You admire me, I can see that. My coat looks glossy and soft but when you touch it you find it is tough and unyielding. It keeps away the wind and the rain, the hot dry of summer and the bleak cold of winter. I scorn to seek shelter from the worst weather. And the weather is harsh here, make no mistake.
The spring is best when the plains blush green and are dotted with flowers more lovely than jewels. The summer blisters and parches. No rain falls for weeks on end until vast thunder clouds gather like a swarm of locusts in the sky. Then, a crack of lightning, the terrible charge of our gods in the heavens, and the rain smashes upon the land.
The autumn I like for it is mild and mellow. Yet I know by snuffing the air that winter follows close upon it. The winters are savage. Sometimes the breath of my people is so dense in the cold that we are hidden by mist. We have to move on then, trekking mile after mile in search of good grass and running water.
My females admire me. I have clean, strong limbs, and a back that curves like a river gently turning. My hair is wild and golden, fringing my neck like a tree in full leaf. My tail is my emblem. I use it to tell of my anger or of my pleasure. My eyes are far-seeing and I use the fierceness of my gaze to keep my young males in their place. The sound of my voice is like the thunder of my people as we run.
I was born ten summers ago and am in the full glory of my strength and wisdom. I do not worry about the young males and my females show no interest in them. I know, with some sorrow, that one day I will tire and another will fight me for the lordship. That is decreed by our gods and so it must be. But that is long in the far tomorrow and I push the idea from me.
I take my pleasure with my females and as I do so I heap scorn upon my rivals. I have fathered many children and they are my wealth and my joy. I sometimes imagine a long line of them leaping across the plains until they are lost to the keenest sighted.
And what is my joy?
My joy is to be me. To run and run from morning to night, my muscles flexing and pulsing as I eat up the miles. I am born to run, born to gallop across the world.
My father told me once that I should shun the little monkey people who trudge across the world. For their destiny is entwined with ours and one day they will enslave us. I do not fear their puniness and their whips.
I stand tall above the grasses and I am fleet of foot.