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.

Margot Farrington is the author of two full-length collections, most recently Flares And

Fathoms (Bright Hill Press).  She is the recipient of poetry fellowships at Norton Island and at the I-Park Foundation in 2009 and 2010, respectively.  Forthcoming poems will appear in The Broome Review and Cimarron Review. A reading and interview are available via Art On Air International Radio archives of 2010.



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