The Sound of Laughter

by Alice L. Gregory

(Homage to two hyena paintings by Daniel McClendon)

Silent as the death they bring, she and the pack advance.
Zebras oblivious to menace until a foal is cut from the herd—
with one lunge, jugular sliced, animal down.

Tiny belly ripped open, the leader dives into
steaming offal.  Her hungry pack joyfully sends up
a ratcheting, maniacal din that alarms
many listening creatures.

Soon females crowd in to feed, splattering blood and entrails
in trampled grass.  Males hesitate, not favored—
bones and leavings their later fare.

No carrion today, this orgy boasts prime meat.
Gory snouts point skyward, yipping in delight, then
tear into quivering pulp.

The artist closes his eyes, concentrates on images
crowding his mind.  How best to illustrate truth?

His brush has painted ragged spots, umber fur, feral
glare…but the pose is wrong.  His hand begins to move.
Alpha female still crouches over the ruined carcass, chest,
muzzle and paws stained red, mouth unhinged.  He alters
her position—
She raises her head.

The painter steps back to survey his work.  A victorious howl
rises from the canvas.

Alice Gregory is a transplant from New York, and has been totally seduced by the mountains of Western North Carolina. She is an art collector, writer, and gardener.

About The Sound of Laughter—I had recently been introduced to the exciting animal paintings of Daniel McClendon in Asheville, and was inspired to use the energy of two paintings to fulfill an unusual class assignment. By the way, I skipped the hyena and bought a horse.