Here is what happens when darkness falls:
countless times down sleep’s blind
alleys and wormholes slipping
through into new dimensions
I wake to find gravity’s laws
and I go looking for the tiger.

Often I have slept curled
inside her jaws while she pads
along the backbone of the night
her eyes fey and filled with fire
         and in the morning my temples ache
         with the distant rumble of her heart
         beating against my skull.

(See there, her heavy paws have left
impressions so deep they hold the water
after rain
still pools in which my reflection lingers.)

She is not easy
she leaves me uneasy
the quiet thunder of her passing
is a hollowed-out longing
as of a lover lately left
         but I have no memory of a lover
         only tingling along the nerves
         that would leash my tail to my spine.

Last night she found me
and hissed her name into my ear: Chaaya.
Shade walker.
Soul stealer.
If we fear only what we
do not know
then I am a mystery to myself.

The dream tells me this:
in some other world where gravity
pulls things apart and not together
the tiger is me.


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