The Lion’s Heart
by Nicholas Ciulla
To get here my entire life, I’ve fought,
A never-ending pool of knowledge sought.
To feel at last that it can all be mine
‘Tis a feeling that is truly divine.
A mighty ruler of a world unseen
A monarch of vast seas and meadows green
And green the meadows have brilliantly shone
For all those quick and sharp who seize the throne.
And all of everything the light may touch
Was the ruler’s to keep and theirs to clutch.
* * *
A pride of lions slept through the clear night
Under the protection of the moon’s light.
The skilled hunters of the open grassland,
The bold and the brave who rule the badlands.
One lion called Ari gazed at the stars.
What isn’t now known, one can learn from his scars.
Fight bravely and fearlessly, would Ari.
The best of his pride, he knew he should be.
Enraged by failure and never content,
Ari left to find for what he was meant.
With one goodbye and a swipe of his claws
Ari was gone, new earth beneath his paws.
For many a night and many a day,
Ari carried on, led never astray
By the wind which guided him until he saw
A pride of elites, and he froze with awe.
He saw them and knew they were different.
Their authority was made apparent.
By not just their power and dignity,
But by shocking speed and dexterity.
Ari knew for a fact that he could not
Just join nonchalantly, he’d earn his spot.
And Ari knew just how hard it would be,
For those lions seemed much better than he.
His eyes shone bright with determination.
However, his fierce, fearless expression
Showed the slightest hint of hopeful longing.
Nostalgia struck him; his home was calling.
For this epic pride, he knew he could part.
And he found courage in his lion’s heart.
Ari mustered his strength one fateful day,
Hoping in the pride, he’d forever stay.
He stepped onto their land, his shoulders wide,
Wind in his mane, not a break in his stride.
To merge with this pride, Ari must surpass
All competitors, the tough and the rash.
Throughout that fateful day, he was tested.
His limits were pushed, his efforts bested.
But he never quit, and when the dust cleared,
Ari remained tall, respected and feared.
Though the trials had tested Ari well,
And swiftly to slumber that night, he fell,
A sense of accomplishment found its place
In Ari’s stone-cold, ever-stolid face.
Through the following days, he made his home
Among the elite pride, never alone.
But as he watched the others day by day,
Ari had a feeling he dared not say.
A deep sense of inferiority,
Triumphed by their superiority.
Feeling a lesser ate away Ari.
He pondered, dawn to dusk, how he could be
A member of a pride of such prestige,
His ego and confidence now besieged,
When he, himself was of such low esteem
With many past shortcomings to redeem.
Although the other lions of the pride
Were friends and allies who stuck by his side,
Subservience was intolerable.
The lion’s heart is indomitable.
In this state of gloom, he would not improve.
To better himself, Ari had to move.
He trained intensely to sharpen his skills,
Hunting through the day, claiming his own kills.
While silently stalking unknowing prey,
Ari tuned his senses to the world’s ways.
The lion into which Ari had grown
Would be none the same if he were alone.
Ari had friends to guide him the whole way.
This is, no doubt, more than others can say.
The self-pride, he had was swallowed by then.
What he’d lacked before, he overcame when
He was no longer scared to request aid
From the friends he was so lucky to have made.
He was shocked by their willing assistance
And accepted with little hesitance.
The lionesses of the long hunt,
The warriors of the savannah front
Both led Ari to power and strength.
His boundaries were now endless in length.
Ari was sure he’d earned his place
When a youth called Kizuu said to his face,
“I want to be a great fighter like you.”
Ari beamed, and agreed to share a few
Of the tips his friends had given, but he
Still wondered, Why has Kizuu come to me?
When Ari asked, the young lion replied,
“You never lose fights.” And Ari realized
The better self he’d craved since his depart
Was, at last, found in Ari’s lion heart.