Tigerwoman

When I became tigerwoman,
I couldn’t work in the city.
Men in striped suits ducked into doorways
at the sight of me padding the pavement.
Supermarkets and cinemas became impossible.
There were no more black-tie dinners.
Evening dresses were redundant.
Who needs a little black number when you’re drop dead tiger.
Not one man had the courage to buy me a drink or ask me to dinner.
They cowered in my presence, thinking kill not mate.
It didn’t matter that I was always single.
The odd night would be fun but commitment unnecessary.
They put armed guards at the school gates.
It was sad.
Before children were taught to fear me,
they loved to bury their hands in my thick fur coat,
hitch a ride on my ruff.
My tail beat time as we sang warrior songs.
They felt safe around my teeth and claws,
keen eyes that could see in the dark.
At night, I slept beneath a tree in the woods
wondered what to do.
Secretly, I still lived among them.
Only a few knew of my presence but kept quiet.
They understood the medicine in my black and orange stripes,
the power of instinctual nature.
But most don’t want to know,
not even in their dreams.
They have bolted the door so tightly
even a tigerwoman can’t find a way in.

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