Long Time No See

I recommend you read “Tiger” by William Blake before or after reading my poem. Your choice. Find it here.

I used to look for something in your eyes,
among jungle green under a soft sheen
of shade and the trickle-down pools
of water and slippery, dripping air.
But I couldn’t find a tiger there.

I glimpsed orange slices amidst leaves,
tasting bright possibilities of exotic future.
I traveled to the world’s edge and stood
on a canyon rim, dreams disappearing with
the tangerine in the sky. No longer blind,
I sought something in that sunset,
but I couldn’t find a tiger there.

As the night fell and orange faded away,
I looked down into the gorge that marked
the earth’s edge. I found darkness, the dark
brown of a sad tiger’s eyes, wild imprisoned.
I found a tiger there,

under guard by fear and insecurity and resistance.
Locked away for years. Starving yourself of life’s
rich, raw possibilities, its lifeblood–opportunity.
No bold beast before me, but a sad thing afraid
to grab life by the throat. I saw no tiger there.

I looked for a tiger in all the right places:
the jungles, rain forests, mountains, and
found one-but-not-one in the worst of cages.
It wasn’t in your bright eyes, but at the bottom
of your past. The dark, ancient history of doubt
and despair. No wonder I found no tiger there.

Sometimes I saw a flash of the untamed beast
in your eyes, but more often than not
I only viewed jungle leaves and the emptiness
of untasted flesh, a tiger gone vegetarian.
No wonder you cringed every time I said, “Flesh.”

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