by Ann Chiappetta
Years ago, before I lost most of my vision, our family often visited our favorite nearby zoo. I recall one time in particular, the interaction with a cheetah made a lasting impression. It was late summer, a beautiful day for a visit. We singled out our favorite animals habitats after mapping our route, and strode off, the kids leading the way.
I am not sure how I got separated, but somehow my husband and the kids turned one way and I went the other way and I found myself facing a large clear acrylic viewing window. It was about 8 feet high and 8 feet across; my white cane banged against it, startling me. I stood there, not sure where I was, the animal had approached on my blind side. I caught movement from what was left of my vision, and turned, and froze. A cheetah was standing next to me, separated by 2 inches of acrylic. It was beautiful, and very big. As large as the Irish wolfhound owned by a friend and shaped like a greyhound. It met my eyes, as if curious about me. I gazed into its beautiful amber eyes, lost in their depths for an unknown length of time. Something told me not to move or it would vanish. I stood, mesmerized until the magic moment was broken.
The call of a familiar voice broke the spell, and in another moment, my husband walked into the viewing area.
“Where have you been? I’ve been looking for you everywhere,” he said.
“I was looking at the cheetah,” I said, pointing to the now empty place where the cheetah had stood only a moment ago.
“Well, it’s not there now,” he said, and led me back to where my sister and the kids sat on a bench. We walked back into the viewing area and I showed them where I stood. No cheetah. The wall plaque stated it was a cheetah enclosure but the animal was not going to show itself again. Why it had appeared to me and why my ruined eyes were able to gaze into the wild and spiritual depths mystifies me to this day. It touched me, deep inside and I will never forget the feeling despite being unable to describe how it felt.
About the Author
Ann Chiappetta M.S. is an author and poet, making meaningful connections with others through writing. Ann’s nonfiction essays have been printed in Dialogue magazine, among others. Her poems are often featured in Poesis, The Pangolin Review, and Magnets and Ladders. Her poetry is also included in Breath and Shadow’s 2016 debut anthology, Dozen: The Best of Breath and Shadow. Her books—a poetry collection Upwelling: Poems, a memoir Follow Your Dog a Story of Love and Trust, Words of Life: Poems and Essays, and a short story collection A String of Stories From the Heart to the Future—are available in both e book and print formats from Amazon. Visit her site http://www.annchiappetta.com/ to learn more about her work.