The Tiger

I dreamt a dream of a tiger

In musty darkness of a circus tent

Light filtering thorough small holes

Like stars in a maroon night

And glowing dark red gold

Where fabric grew thin.

I smelled the tiger before

I saw her, heavy scent

Of fur and dung, stinging

Of adrenaline and fear a

Hot musty flame.

Yes, I could sense a burning,

Beating flames, burning

In the stomach, gleaming

Embers in the eyes.

Yes, I could see the eyes

Flashing flames in the dark

Filled with deadly fear.

Drawn inexplicably, I moved

Closer. On the edge of hearing,

A large padded foot fall, silent

As a heart beat.

I saw brindled fur, catching

Light in dust motes, orange on black

Flames in the night.

She never showed me

her whole length

Tantalizing flashes

Flicking tail.

We approached each other,

Staring as each confronted

a nightmare.

Finally, I stood before her

I reached out to touch

Her rippling brindled fur

And bruised my fingers on glass.

For I stood before a mirror.

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