facts about tigers:

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?
they respond,
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
they say,
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…

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