After they shot Tatiana
he went back to that halting gait
he had as a widower,
before her sensual energy
bounced off the rocks, twice felt.
That she, not he, went after the boys
who taunted them tells something
about the couple. Ferocity:
that was hers, and he let her have it,
even if it meant she cuffed him
once in a while, her ears laid back,
her lethal claws retracted.
Tatiana never lost her wildness,
viciously attacked the hand that fed her,
then sank into a corner and glared
at the terrified witnesses.
Her old mate went into fits of fear
at a tiger poster the zoo put up
and then took down, from pity.
Tatiana groomed her sunset stripes,
pretended not to notice.
Did he who made the lamb make thee?
Sleek, amber-eyed, big, bumbling.
After Tatiana was gone,
it hardly seemed worthwhile,
the great yellow-toothed yawn
which made the children scream.
His joints ached; he was confused
without her direction. He wet himself,
couldn’t get out of the dry moat
where she had forced her freedom
(was he trying to follow her ghost?)
Finally they came crying with his release
and with a mild flick of the black and orange tail
he left his lovely body.
(Tony, March 21, 1991-June 22, 2010)