by Linette Reeman
tigers mostly inhabit areas that are
densely populated by humans—
the truth is, the tigers were there first.
watched habitat rot into
the open grave of an unholier beast /
walked into the center of the street
and felt a thousand gaping eyes / hungry
for an untamable show—
see, no one ever asked the tigers
where they came from.
fact: a tiger told me all of this
truth: the tiger was a person
tigers will claim expansive territory
as their own / knows their whole hometown
open throat / scream for two decades and still
/ crawl out with their voice intact, so
this one buys a plane ticket to pace
the arena of my apartment when alone /
breaks a mirror questioning
where to put their new stripes, so
attempts to clean up carcass they did not
mean to kill, but
tigers attack prey with their
entire body weight. throw whole self
against defenseless other, name
grave within chest “tender” then try
to tear it out. but
tigers are just big cats. you can
mimic a mother cat’s sass in order to get
a kitten to chill out by grabbing
the fur on the back of their neck and
picking them up—
fact: there is a tiger face-down in my bed
fact: they are grabbing the hair above
the back of my neck, or,
doing their best to claw the grave
out of me also. i say,
what do you want?
i don’t know. never before have i been asked
where i came from. see,
tigers are solitary creatures.
do not want to be tamed / just noticed
for something / other than their teeth.
fact: there is a tiger singing along to the radio in my car
fact: we are on the way to the airport
i’m glad i came here.
the truth is, they are really good at singing.
but they don’t know all the lyrics, so
the song kinda comes out like
who’s gonna help me… dig my own grave?
and i’ve been tryin’. who’s gonna help me…
dig my own grave? and i’ve been… help…