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New Moon Tiger

When I was little, big cats were my favorite.
I liked nature programs on PBS, picture books
Depicting lions, tigers, cheetahs, and ocelots.
Once, a panther prowled through our yard
We looked out through the windows (my cat,
And I, safely inside) at the predator, whose
Shoulder blades worked like perfect gears.

Now I keep dreaming of tigers, the great
Healers of the animal kingdom. My dream
Dictionary tells me tigers represent innate
Feminine power, raw emotions, intuition,
The ‘shadow part’ of me, and sensuality,
My will-power, courage and strength.
She symbolizes ‘yin’ and moon energy.

In my dream, I walk beside her, this bengal
Tigress, black-striped, electric-wiry orange
Fur swallows my fingers as I pet the beast.
She chuffs, ears pricked and muscles flexed
We are hunting –primal instincts act fast.
Our taut muscles hold quiet power; in tune
With the mangrove, the dream-jungle forest,
Nature’s rhythms, my lineage, acute senses.

According to Chinese wisdom, the female tiger
Comes to the mystic dreamer on a vision quest
She casts dark moon spells and augers fertile
Desires in a ferocious-hearted breast; a spirit
Animal like this, gnashes her teeth, a vital
Sign, secretive and solidified—these truths
Tell a deeper story—how to trust, how to fight.

I was born the wintry month of water tigers,
The daring daughters of the zodiac, often
Found among extremely prolific writers.
She remains calm, swims through calamities
An appetite for life and a long polished tail,
Her coping mechanism, and it’s a good one
Triggers hidden aggression, coaxes the male
Rolls around for three days of mating rituals.

When I wake from the recurring dream, I realize
There was no danger; I was unafraid of the tiger,
Unpredictable she may be, I know she personifies
My spontaneity and super-adventurous vigor;
Sure enough, it takes guts, I crouch beside her,
My dream-deity, subterranean patient part of me,
Tigers don’t walk for exercise; we are hunting.

We are hunting for the dragon, the ‘yang,’
Sun and fire chi, that waits, hot-winged,
Smoke-mouthed with gleaming fangs;
The solitary tigress—in dreams,
Shows the way to sanctuary.  

Leah C. Stetson

Poet’s note: This is a work-in-progress and part of the Tupelo Press’s 30/30 Poetry Challenge to raise funds for the nonprofit literary press. Please mention my name when you make a donation. Thank you for reading and following my blog. I also encourage you to read the fine work of my fellow poets on the Tupelo Press’s 30/30 blog page here. TP Donate

Last night I dreamt that I was sitting at a dressing table getting ready for a party. I wore a period costume, Marie Antoinette era, a pink and bronze gown with a full skirt, tightly-laced corset under a silk and rose brocaded bodice. A light-colored, feathered wig toppled on my head like a crown and spilled ringlets around my décolleté. I was applying the most unusual make-up from small jars, rouge and oily mica at the creases of my eyes. Most unusual of all—I put on red lipstick, a bright cranberry shade, which I never wear in real, waking life. As I painted my pale lips red, I noticed that the lips were not my own; my face was not mine but someone else’s: a woman also in her thirties, but with angled features and a pocked complexion under the layers of powder. I stared into the mirror. Some gold and beaded jewelry that I had never seen before sat coiled on top of a satin pouch and I picked it up and began putting on sparkling rings, a necklace with gemstones—some ornate design, bedazzling bracelets. Women buzzed about behind me; I watched them in the mirror. They wore the same style dress and elaborately decorated wigs. The rest of the room was a swirl of gold and emerald green velvets, mahogany furniture, most of it painted white like the vanity. Portraits hung on the walls. I didn’t know the faces but they looked freakishly young with white wigs. It was not my bedroom but some kind of suite, or parlor.

In real life, I had known rooms like this. I grew up in historic mansions in Wiscasset, Maine, a village known for houses built in the 18th and 19th century, a haven for antiques enthusiasts. But there in the dream parlor I was surrounded by contemporary pieces and dressed for a banquet. Someone announced a name into the parlor and I stood, stepped away from the vanity. I walked toward the center of the room and kept my gaze on the doorway. A man appeared, also in his thirties, I guessed, and he looked sheepishly happy, his lips curled upward on one side when he saw me. I didn’t recognize him but he knew me. He asked if I were ready and I nodded, took his outreached arm and we left the suite.

Marie Antoinette style vanity

Leah

Poet. Artist. Ecoheroine. Human ecologist. Spiritual mermaid and Mystic. I write about literary ecology, wetlands, water, Romantic ecology, and quirky adventures with my dog.

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