Winter 2012 • Vol. XXXIV No. 1 Nonfiction |

Precarious Creatures

In the weeks that led up to the date of my prostate biopsy and in the eight days it took for the verdict (cancer) to be delivered to me by telephone and even during the hallucinatory week after that, I found myself becoming more and more taken with the possibility that there were mountain lions in the low mountains―the Appalachians and the Alleghenys―around my home in central Pennsylvania. My interest was not new. I'd read about animals when I was young, and the presence of wild animals around my childhood home―Dayton, Ohio―was one of the first things beyond family and friends that captured and held my attention; or it was an early thing that lasted, that has lasted. Wild here means the opossum caught one night by neighborhood dogs in the side yard, a turtle my father found under the porch, a startlingly pale fox―almost ghostly―suddenly there on the road in front of my mother's car, this on an evening in 1960, on the way back from my cousins' home in Cincinnati. When

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