Once Upon a Time

posted Jan 24, 2012

for Emily Lisker

there was a woman in my circus who came from a tiger. I know that’s confusing. The word, “came.” What do I mean? Her mother was a tiger? Her father? Maybe. She never knew. Why? She was an orphan. No family values for her. She trained herself to fit right in. And when the animal trainer held out a ring, she dove through, her yellow braids flying. Everyone applauded. Especially the men. And afterwards, when only the trainer was in her tent (he was a such a tiny man for a trainer, so tiny he had to stand on a platform to look her in the eye and pat her head), she licked his fingers and purred. But with tigers, of course, the pleasure was all hers. Though sometimes she felt sorry for the man. He looked so delicate, the way he kept lifting his baton just for her. Saying Jump! Jump! At least that's how she preferred to remember him. Not the sly way he hid his whip. Those days, of course, are long ago, back from the years of her youth, when she was young and shameless. Long before she shaved her fur, put on heels and left the tent.