Le Lièvre de la Lune
‘Twas the night of full moon which was creamy and round,
four friends hatched a plot, offering food they had found,
to the venerable monks transcendent to bliss,
and providing them alms, so no merit they’d miss.
First went the otter down to the banks,
finding several dead fish that were old and smelled rank,
he collected the fish and enquired with glee,
“Are these anyone’s fish? No? Now they belong to me!”
Next came the Jackal quite sleek, strong, and sly,
he snook in a house where he did espy,
an old yoghurt pot, and his luck was abound ,
‘cause there in the corner a dead gecko he found.
He sniffed at the air and whispered with care,
“Are these vitals yours? Is anyone there?”
Then quick on his foot, he picked up the pot,
stuffed the gecko inside it, and off he trot.
Third was the monkey, he was able but lazy,
he thought all his friends had gone full moon crazy.
“If a hungry monk happens on by,
a ripe mango is theirs, for this tree I will climb.”
Last but not least ‘twas the hare’s turn to go,
she was downcast and quiet with her brow all a-furrow.
“What can I give?” she began to ask,
“All that I eat are weeds, hay, and green grass.”
“Who would want that? Not a monk that’s for sure,
if they’re hungry they’d want something tasty and more.
The others they’ve sorted their food to share,
but me, I’m not worthy, I’m just a lowly old hare.”
But as she sat sulking she struck up a plan,
“I know what I’ll give… just cook me in a pan!”
The others looked on, they though her to be mad,
“You can’t cook yourself – that idea is bad!”
At the very same time a King leapt from his seat,
as his marble throne burned with tremendous white heat.
The only time that this anomaly occurred,
was when the hare’s thoughts of virtue were heard.
The King stood his ground and was very impressed,
as he read the thoughts of the hare’s selfless quest.
“It is easily done to think noble thoughts,
but will she commit, or will it all be for nought?”
King Shakra descended in the guise of a hermit,
and tested the friends, would hare’s courage permit?
He roamed round the forest and found a cool grove,
and sat down to muse, dressed in old clothes.
Along came the otter and offered his fish,
but the beggar rejected otter’s fragrant dish.
Next came the Jackal with his lizard and curds,
the old man refused, wanting to meditate first.
Along came the monkey offering fruit ripe with blush
the mendicant thanked him but declined fruit so lush.
He sat on and waited, the air hung with suspense,
the hare unaware of the hermit’s pretence.
The poor man feigned hunger as the hare appeared,
and the young hare approached showing no fear.
She offered herself as a meal to be savoured,
the old man recoiled at hare’s generous favour.
The camouflaged King explained his misgiving,
that he’d taken a vow not to kill any being,
but hare reassured and explained her lot,
all he needed to do, was kindle a fire, red hot.
So he did as was bid and created the pyre,
unbeknown to the hare ‘twas a magical fire.
The fire was crackling and smoke spiralling high,
brave hare now was ready to give up her life.
But before she leapt in, much to King Shakra’s surprise,
thrice did hare shake, to spare her fleas lives.
So courageous and kind was this little grey hare,
the thought of fleas harm, was intolerable to bear.
With a great leap of faith, small hare took the plunge,
and leapt into the fire with a non-hesitant lunge,
to the fire’s heart centre, the hare did land,
but no burning or pain did the hare withstand.
Hare gazed through the flames as they danced at her feet,
but all she could feel was a soft summers breeze.
Then all came apparent as the monk shed his guise,
and King Shakra gazed on with admiring eyes.
The flames died away leaving the hare and the King
as Shakra smiled on at the astonished hare being.
He picked up the hare and stared in her eyes,
with compassion and pride, he’d prepared a surprise.
Next he plucked a mountain from off of the ground,
raised it to the full moon, still iridescent and round,
and with a flex of his fist, he etched out a hare,
made of volcano juice, it leapt through the air.
Shakra looked at the hare and said, “Now all will see,
a hare in the moon who is selfless as thee.
Let this be a lesson, and be there to inspire,
that our own noble thoughts can take us much higher.”
May you remember this story, when you see the full moon,
of a brave little hare, le lièvre de la lune,
who would give up her life for a noble quest,
having faith in her actions, she was truly blessed.
(Originally posted as a SoundCloud recording on the author’s website: www.worldlywinds.com.)
Alexandra Carr-Malcolm was born and raised in Chesterfield, Derbyshire. She now lives in Yorkshire and works as a freelance British Sign Language Interpreter. Alex has been featured in six collaborative anthologies where proceeds are donated to worthy charities. Her first anthology Tipping Sheep (the right way) was released in 2013. Based on her rich personal life experience her poetry delves into the darker depths of the human predicament.