Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Few Facts About Tigers

For Dulce, who has a way with tigers, for Rachel, who told me about Anna Pavlova, the ballerina in the snow, and for Beatrice, always a dancer.

Tigers cannot be trained.

If you could only assemble enough pieces of their would-be handlers,

You could ask them yourself.

The creatures you see in circuses,

Those are not tigers.

Those are squirrels,

Fed to bursting

And painted with stripes.

Tigers are solitary.

But sometimes, at night, one will leap soundlessly through an open bedroom window,

And sit for hours--

Dazzled by the reflected moon light

Off a brass bed frame.

Tigers are fascinated with dancers.

Tigers have great rough tongues,

And their hearts beat slowly, steadily.

Once, there was a ballerina in the snow--

She had gotten off the train and

Stepped into the Russian winter,

Intent on sending the snow back up into the sky

So that she could appear in the capital that night.

A tiger met her there.

(or it may have been a tigress)

After dancing in St. Petersburg,

She invited this tiger into her bed.

Her manager had been going to object, but thought better of it,

And went grumbling off to his room at the end of the hall instead.

Tigers are naturally graceful beyond measure.

The next night, before the Czar, the ballerina danced with a tiger;

She knew that tigers can be

And that tigers are

The most beautiful dancers of all.

Tigers fall in love only once in their lives.

After the Royal command performance, the dancer disappeared for two weeks.

A staretz arriving from the countryside reported having seen a ballerina in the snow,

Dancing either with God

Or a very large tiger.

A short time later,

Confined to her bed,

Unable to breathe,

The dancer acknowledged that she was dying.

Her manager scolded and wept.

Her devotees buried her hotel in bouquets.

"Listen," she whispered,

"I have danced with a tiger

And by doing so,

We sent the snow back up into Heaven--

Something that even God and the angels cannot do."

Ballet, the arts, all of that, are one thing--

But a tiger, once having loved, will never change its mind.

Tigers, the last romantics, cannot be trained, humbled or caged.

I invite you, fool, to try.



Cloudia said...

"I invite you fool to try>"
You write with awesome authority!

Love your work, and YOU
Aloha, Friend!

Comfort Spiral

Riot Kitty said...

I love it!

Dulce said...

Tigeresses like me love reading these things... and also get blushed!

My biggest loves have been tigers (Chinese Star sign): FOUR tigers have entered my life only to make me roar to desperation, for am really a snake who likes to crawl to bed and in bed. Tigers tend to stand on snakes' head and ruin their lives... they are not good matches... I can confirm. Still they are so beautiful, dear!

I love your poem and your 'devotion' to me. Great Girl :* :*

Mama Zen said...

The last line is perfect.

RachelW said...

Oh, this is delightful. It's true, you can't train a tiger. Or imprison one. Those ones on display in zoos, they must be overfed squirrels, too.

T said...

Powerful and strong and independent creatures those tigers are!

Love it Shay!!


T said...

PS: I will email you soon and fill you in on all what has been keeping me away.

Love and Hugs.

pheromone girl said...

Excuse me, I have a train to catch. It must be snowing someplace...

I miss the boquets, I tell you...

Ekanthapadhikan said...

I think this is the best of all that you have written so far. Awesome imagery and too with such power and grace. Felt as though I me-self was dancing with a tiger. Must admit that, I got scared when I closed my eyes and tried to picture it after reading your poem.


Scarlet said...

This looks like a screenplay waiting to happen. Beautiful work, Shay!

Vesper said...

Shay, what a fantastic poem! The images, the rhythm, the message are incredibly beautiful and melancholic at the same time - the way great poetry is...

Elizabeth Bradley said...

I knew a tiger once. He bit me.

Kay said...

hmmmph! you can say that again! cause beilieve me, i've tried! :)