“Tableau à la Rousseau” by David R. Slavitt


Tableau à la Rousseau

by David R. Slavitt

That lions like lavender is amiable; for the mane’s
tawny to find complement in the green
spike with sharp accent of the blossom
is not mere whimsy, as delight in catnip
would be, but somehow right. One can nearly
see in those slow yellow eyes a need to express
the innate refinement lions have, and lavender
must be a relief from the flesh-red, blood-red
redness of their usual provender
and the bloody obviousness of crimson with gold.
Or, it may be the odor, or
just to adore such a vegetable vegetable.
It extends the range of lions, even as they
extend its possibilities: they may
love most to patronize, to let it be said
that among the lovers of lavender are lions.


David R. Slavitt is the author of over 80 books — nonfiction, novels, poetry collections, and translations.  Recent books include the poetry collection, Seven Deadly Sins (LSU Press); a translation of Sophocles’ Theban Plays (Yale U Press); and the forthcoming essay collection George Sanders, Zsa Zsa, and Me (Northwestern U Press).  The above poem is used by permission of the author and can be found in his 2005 collection, Change of Address: Poems New and Selected.

About Okla Elliott

I am currently an assistant professor at Misericordia University in northeast Pennsylvania. I hold a PhD in comparative literature from the University of Illinois, an MFA in creative writing from Ohio State University, and a legal studies certificate from Purdue University. My work has appeared in Cincinnati Review, Harvard Review, The Hill, Huffington Post, Indiana Review, The Literary Review, New Letters, Prairie Schooner, A Public Space, and Subtropics, as well as being listed as a "notable essay" in Best American Essays 2015. My books include From the Crooked Timber (short fiction), The Cartographer’s Ink (poetry), The Doors You Mark Are Your Own (a coauthored novel), Blackbirds in September: Selected Shorter Poems of Jürgen Becker (translation), and Bernie Sanders: The Essential Guide (nonfiction).
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