123: When Vision Narrows To A Single Beam of Light

123: When Vision Narrows To A Single Beam of Light

When Vision Narrows To A Single Beam of Light
by Eleanor Wilner

For years he had been hidden, quiet,
huge head on his paws,
almost a sphinx in his composure,
a figure waiting
for a breeze to move the dense
green canopy of leaves overhead,
enough to bring a hair-thin laser line
of light down
            into the endless twilight
below;
            he had been patient, waiting
for the underbrush to open, for a low
wind to enter, ruffling his fur, astir
along his spine, then a gravelly
purr within, slowly
the pink
mouth
opening
into a yawn . . .
if you were not afraid
you could see how the light
makes his wet teeth shine
as he runs his tongue along them,
how his languid stretching shoves aside
years of debris the forest shed,
dry leaves like dead laws,
how his claws unfurl as he breaches
the hedge that had held him close, how
this small wind,
                           this one thin line of light suffices
to open the waking tiger to our view⏤
that line of light a burning fuse
meant to measure
the diminishing distance
between the tiger
and us.

"When Vision Narrows To A Single Beam of Light," from BEFORE OUR EYES by Eleanor Wilner. Copyright © 2019 by Eleanor Wilner. Used by permission of Princeton University Press.

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