Friday, August 3, 2007

The Tiger’s Roar

She came from a town near the border,
Once jungle, now scrub,
Once peaceful, now disputed.
At dusk, as a young girl,
Lying on her raffia bed,
She would hear the lion roar
Its homage to the day, now kissed goodnight.
She would think it was roaring for her,
Afraid that it would poke its strong head
Through the mud walls
And she would feel its warm breath,
Catch the gleam of its sharp teeth
Before it carried her off like a rag doll
Into the cushioned undergrowth.

Now she lives in two rooms
High above the snarling street,
A spear’s throw from the spot
Where Pearse issued his proclamation
Cherishing all citizens.
The vans growl
And the buses shriek
And titanic tussles rise
From the nearby watering-hole,
Cacophanising the coarse air.
Sullen tribesmen stare out from the stairwell,
Decorated, menacing.

She flicks the chipped switch
And straightens the kettle’s frayed cable,
Casting a careless eye
At the dark patch melting down the wall.
A month’s grime curtains the sash window.
Flakes of white paint lie stricken on the sill.

They tell her the tiger is still roaring
And she lies awake at night
Straining to hear it.

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