When I Was a Tiger



When I was a tiger, I was all strength, all might,

All power in my swift paws, a god with a game,

Obedient of the law, taking what was needed,

No less, no more. And when the hunt was over,

The hunger satisfied, I would listen

To the voices of the jungle,

The primeval chant of the river

And the land and the rain.

I was a spirit of sorts, who knew

My place in the dance of time and space.

I was at peace.

The jungle and I, one.

I enjoyed the song of the bird

And flutter of the butterfly,

And every evidence of life filled

Me with joy.

I inhaled the scent of all that it was

And my heart flustered with love

For the pulsating rhythm of every other heart,

The salvia of the tree, the silence of the rock,

The chatter of mama monkey calling out her monkey son.

The caress of the grass on my fur was

Like a mate’s lick, a lover’s kiss,

The warm teat that filled me with milk

When I was blinded and weak.

The jungle was my mother and my comrade.

My beloved. My friend, my teacher,

my home; I, myself and more.

Then man came.

And men knew no law, care not for it.

And I heard my lover’s plea as her children

Were taken and bound, killed, not for life

But as part of a game of death, trees broken down,

Rocks rolled away from their ancestral home

To end as roads for men to walk upon, ride upon,

Drag upon the corpses of my brothers and sisters,

The colossal crocodile and the elusive antelope.

Cut, ripped, parts thrown away to the dust.

My heart burst with hate.

And I was no longer a tiger.

I could no hear my mother’s song

Of orderly grace. I was about to break the law,

In a bloody feast lose myself.

I died in the village,

Three spears in my back,

My paws raw and red,

The trail of my destruction

Making fathers and wives bend and

Arc, in grief and fear and pain.

I felt the yielding earth under my body,

Rich, moist and soft. Warm with my blood.

And I wished I could be

A tiger. The tiger I was before.

Fill with joy, full of love.

All strength and dominance.

But the law was broken

When I made a nest for hate in my heart.

In the distance, the jungles weeps.

Heat turns to cold, day turns to night.

When I was a tiger, I was all power and might.


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