all alone/ in his huge cage

the only animal in a room big as my whole school

the room answered/ when you talked too loud

he’s by himself/ a special exhibit/ Teacher said

just means he’s different/ I think

he probably doesn’t get along/ most tigers are yellow

I lean up against the rail that keeps people away

from the bars that stretch from floor to ceiling

his black stripes like armor/ white fur catches too bright light

throws it back/ in the face of his audience

back and forth/ and back again/ he paces/ hoping

waiting for something to happen

he stops sometimes/ looks at the people/ staring back at him

he seems out of place/ and lonely

or maybe just alone?

a giggle echoes/ not too far off

I remember my classmates/ turn from the cage to see them

standing in groups of two/ three/ four/ they talk and laugh

I know why

a whisper/ a giggle/ whisper whisper point giggle

pointing at the only one alone/ standing close to the beast’s cage

I pretend not to notice/ turn back stare hard at the Tiger

try not to cry

“kids are cruel”/ Mom always says/ “and you’re different”

I’m not supposed to let it bother me

so I think about the Tiger/ what he’s doing here alone

wonder if there even is another/ White Tiger

when I find out/ I’ll let you know




Isa Gordon

©April 1990