The Innisfree Poetry Journal
by Margot Farrington
Scanning for Tigers
The problem, said the optometrist,
lies with print. Eyes were never meant to read
but to scan for tigers. To scan for tigers at a
distance, shift to a close-up of one arm,
where a fallen insect uncurls, walks
among hairs. Back again to distance, alert
for stripes among the foliage. Mindful
of shadow among the shadows,
conspiracies of light. The eyes,
he said, were meant for roaming. The eyes
were meant for wildness. Print, in its ant parade,
tyrannizes. You can never look at a book
the way you look at a woman. The woman
and the tiger share a sinuous flow that lets
the eyes slip by, even as they behold.
No grasping, ever, with the woman or
the tiger, though each may imprint upon the
retina a memory that devours.
So which is more dangerous? Books, too,
excite and inflame. Banned and burned (and
come to think of it) some women burned too.
Blake's tyger ignited him. Every hunter burns.
We're on fire, he said lastly, from all we see.
Books and men and women turn to ashes in the end.
But the tiger remains an ember.
Copyright 2006-2012 by Cook Communication