Like a match lit in darkness, it sprung
Its yellow-lake and black-island eyes
Upon us through the wire mesh fence.
The tiger stood as still as death,
Instilled with the patience of evolution.
We chuckled awkward with quivering breath
As the wire appeared to shrink.
The animal’s brawny limbs locked
In a poise readied for frenzy.
A frenzy we dared not wake.
The stare rendered us impotent.
All prior audacity lost.
Our stiff disquietude a kiss
On the ring of this blood-hungry beast.
We turned to flee its gaze,
Too strong for any barrier.
The image of its heart-splitting stare
Imprinted on our marrow forever.