Tiger Butter

Is it only when you’re little
you know tigers live in your closet—
one with your shoes on his two ears,
another with your umbrella tied to his tail;
the rest wearing your red coat
and blue trousers with the red buttons?
Is it only when you’re little
the dustballs have mountainous shadows
in the crack of light under the door?
Or is it also NOW you fear that tigers will eat you—
when you wake in the middle of the night
and don’t know where you are,
nor remember how far you’ve come.
Your nose hurts like a plowed field,
your fingers stiff—
Then somehow, you remember what you’ve accomplished.
The sewing is finished—
The red buttons threaded to the blue pants
and the little coat with its sleeves.
And you know you have given them to the tigers
(so they won’t eat you).
But they chased themselves around a tree
and melted into butter.
NOW you can pick up your coat and trousers,
your shoes and umbrella.
Soon, even, you can start your car and go—
The promise of dawn already
on the face
of the clock-radio.

“Tiger Butter” from On Age in a Dreamy by Diane Glancy (Minneapolis: Milkweed Editions, 1986). Copyright © Diane Glancy. Reprinted with permission from Milkweed Editions. www.milkweed.org.
Source: One Age in a Dream (Milkweed Editions, 1986)
More Poems by Diane Glancy