Jason Zuzga
The Riddle


The sphinx tore at my brain
with her riddles. She acted like it was nothing
to have grown wings and claws like a bird and a lion,
to have such perfect skin and binocular eyes.
She transformed me into one creature
front half lion, back half deer.
I took a bite of my own flank and digested myself,
I was nutrition enough to allow the wound to heal.
With a twist of the sphinx's claws
I swapped halves, lion tail swishing, mouth of herbivorous teeth.
The back half of me wanted to rush
into the front half of me.
I wanted to roar but only nibbled at the grass and tipped
back onto my muscular lion haunches,
haplessly kangaroo.  I could barely walk on all fours,
the force of my back legs tripping me down in the scrub.
My lion half demanded more protein, the muscles
aching and starved.
My deer half was all brain, and considered this.
I bit a few birch leaves, masticated, ears aflutter,
sniffing myself and feeling alarm.
The wind came thrusting through the trees
and considered me in the way.
I breathed in the wind, I stopped
a mouse with my hind claw.
The sphinx turned the mouse into grain, stalks erupting
through its face and back,  I nibbled on them,
considering the sphinx as she folded me into her wings.