At the intersection of the epic and the fable is a tale that can reveal the unseen.
The Snow Leopard
By Lydia Trethewey
The villagers huddle around the fire as the witch-cry of the snow leopard echoes down from the mountains. They listen as the Blind Woman softly speaks the names of all those lost to the ghost cat’s terrible fury, to the invisible creature that roams alone.
In the morning a call to warriors is made, to bring back the beast’s head. Men come forward, each boasting of his prowess in hunting in a voice that quivers with fear.
Into the circle steps the Blind Woman and a hush falls. She will go, she says, into the mountains, because she alone does not fear the invisible.
Slowly she climbs the mountain peak, her cloudy white eyes unblinking against the snow.
At the top she finds the snow leopard. He bares his teeth and snarls. He hisses and spits as she approaches.
She stands before him, unseeing.
The snarling stops. In the milky white of her eyes he sees himself, reflected.
Softly, she speaks.
‘For me the world is invisible. But in my sightlessness you can see yourself, no longer unseen or alone.’
The ghost cat stares and stares, then breaks away. He bounds into the mountain, his fury disappearing into snow.