Rear view

Phil Kay

A jaguar in Venezuela

hen l lirst saw the jaguar I thought she was

loose. trotting away from her handler. l

naturally stepped l'orward so that it anyone was to he attaeked tirst. it would he me. not my two lriends. My pupils enlarged. l was on the halls ol' my leet » hreaths shallow and last as I saw her pass the low windows. eoat heay'y and mall in the shadows. .-\nd those paws.

Those paws. the limit ones and the hack ones that almost drag over the ground. built to aeeommodate t'ull 20ft runs. all that weight leaping. turning. pouneing. elimhing. They do just enough to earry her along. The weight of her body makes the l‘rame sway slightly to eaeh side as she holds the tail up and back out. a touch eoiled and lifted. kind ol liy'ing its own life with responses too integral tor me to piek.

Sometimes it is linked to a wieked aspeet in the eyes. You can see the shoulder hones swimming away under the heay'y‘ heay'iness ot‘ the eoat. setting a lean tone.

They are not spots. they are rosettes. eurls of darkness around an iris also dark. She is a hlaek panther that is not all hlaek. Her head has no bones. is all llesh. It is huge and her eyes are higger than ours and sharper at the corners and set at an angle.

The handler hrings her around the trout ot‘ the large open building that is the base eamp lot“ our expedition into the Orinoco Delta. You hay e heard ol~

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The awesome pad fell to the ground and I felt a claw go right between my

jungle. chained tip. She got play‘l'ul.

it. ‘the Orinoco l)e|ta‘. I had I just did not know what it was. It is a eontluenee ol the many trihutaries ot' the major riy‘ers surrounding the ()rinoeo as they flow out into the .r\tlantie. The lingers at the end ot' the arm into the sea.

I am here with lriend Brendan. my brother (‘hris and .-\le\andra. a photographer. \\'e are being lilmed tor a doeumentary. which is an other story. It all went wohhly when the director told us to take ottr drying T—shirts oll the side ol' the speeding jeep heeause they were messing tip the shots . . .

I played with the jaguar and she roamed in a eirele around where the chain was tied to a post. Here the west meets the jungle. here the riy'ers' meet the \L‘il. here the white Seot plays with the dark killing ghost of the night—time

turned her head and eull'ed at me with a paw. the elaws out only an ineh. l palmed it away and the awesome pad tell to the ground and I tell a elaw go right hetween my [Hex Red lites. \Vhite elaw.

last thing at night we we see the handler leading her to the eage. ’.lust putting the jag away.’ says Brendan and our laugh’s hreath stlt'el} alleets the trajectory tilltitte or two mosquitoes that till the air.


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