Location: St. Vincent & Grenadines

You were driving home in the dark on one glass-slippered heel, window sliced open and bathing in the snowliquor of the night air. We heard you singing, and couldn't bear to wake you.

23 July 2005

Los tigres.

You make things happen. If you lie undersheets in the first of night and you whistle for blue, the dark indigo will meet you where you are. The trees steam. Your lips are bright where you licked them. We were talking and someone mentioned your name, and it was as if all our tongues had suddenly, furtively, darted out to wet our lips. That was this morning. There was still fog on the ground.

I was watching for tigers. My eye askance half-black in the thicket of pre-dawn, I sat in the little water at one distance with myself and the motors of sunrise. I was conceived on the parapet of an immense castle, and immediately out of my mother’s womb, I fell over the edge. I have been falling ever since.

The first tiger crept through the leaves of your jungle wall and licked your eyes closed with its long, purple tongue. Your fingers interlaced like a spider going both ways at once. And at once your shoulder slumped, you leaned against the curve of the nutshell, you slid down.

The second tiger came in on a yellow seedwheel, blown through the sheets on a wind of no prearrangement. I shot it once because I was surprised, again because I was afraid, a third time because it was dead. We made a little song about it.

The third tiger had its name all printed up on glossy stock and knelt, stroking the trees, fishhook tractorpulling purr ripping languorously through the air. The sunset squashed down fat and purple like a common plum or the glans of a penis. One and all we lifted a sad hurrah.

The fourth tiger apologized before it was even in the door. It went stripes-all-backwards and couldn’t talk about Presidents. I remember how it changed my view of things, the way it came to meet its death in reverse.

The fifth tiger was the orange creation we had all forgotten about. When it came, all the lights were out and I wasn’t watching anymore. It had real teeth and it wore them in its mouth. It was waking to the small and blurry numbers on the other side of the surface because you weren’t thinking, you weren’t thinking at all. You forgot the blue could whistle back.


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