i am the tiger. i know i’m not supposed to live in the big city lurking among the gray people with their black umbrellas but i do.
i’m colored with the pigments of a mushroom cloud. all the bright bits of blood and fire and then ashes. devastation. i’m striped. it’s a sign of humanity and also the presence of an alien.
human eyes can be so scorching. there are holes like cigarette burns beneath my coat from where people looked. oddity. beast. tigers belong in a zoo.
a tiger sleeps in your friend’s bed at night. she cries sometimes. we have softer eyes, with no burning rim like those of homo sapiens. panthera tigris. vulnerable survivors.
the stripes are self-inflicted. the orange bleeds from the stripes like dye. blood onto a bandaid. sometimes i raise my paws to my ears dig my claws into my temples and roar.
tigers can’t wash windows or eat too much human food or do anything but lurk at night. the forest is too far away right now but it is kinder.
there will be no zoo. i will return, someday, to where it rains day and night.