Because you can be what you’re not
for only so long,
one day the tiger cub raised by goats
wandered to the lake and saw himself.
It was astounding
to have a face like that, cat-handsome,
hornless, and we can imagine he stared
a long time, then sipped
and pivoted, bemused yet burdened now
with choice. The mother goat had nursed him.
The others had tolerated
his silly quickness and claws.
And because once you know who you are
you need not rush,
and good parents are a blessing
whoever they are, he went back to them,
rubbing up against
their bony shins, keeping his secret to himself.
But after a while the tiger who’d found
his true face
felt the disturbing hungers, those desires
to get low in the reeds, swish his tail,
Because he was a cat he disappeared
without goodbyes, his goat-parents relieved
such a thing was gone.
And we can imagine how, alone and beyond
choice, he wholly became who he was—
that zebra or gazelle
stirring the great blood rush and odd calm
as he discovered, while moving, what needed
to be done.