Does the tigress have a right
to open her body and welcome inside
an enemy of her sworn male partner?
Does the daughter of this forbidden union have a right
To necklace the winds with her calls of arrival
at the ripe age of autumn berries?
Does the sworn male partner have a right
to slash the throat of that ripe daughter
of his lover and leave her ecologically precious body
glinting like unspent gold in the sun, all because
when that body did river with blood, it bore the wrong smell?
Does the human poacher have a right
to tiptoe through the forest
to cock a rifle
to send a ball of death through the rib cage of the tiger
that murdered the daughter of his sworn lover
does the man have a right
to take that murderous fur and the bone beneath
and sell the fur to make a rich woman beautiful
and sell the bone to breathe movement into a baby’s frozen legs
and all to buy bread for his family?
He does not have that right.
But you and I have the right to write
a story about it, or tell the truth, if it should in any tragic case come to be so
and we have a right to kick and scream
and bury his voice
in a prison of ink and language, without touching
a hair on his impotent head. But that impotent poacher,
does he have the right
to tell whichever ear listens
that he ought to have the right to kill tigers,
that tigers are murderers, that nature is immoral,
that man is supposed to be part of nature, that it is the fault of the rich and beautiful
or of the capitalists who chain price tags to a loaf of bread
or of the Asians who still believe in magic
for providing a market for his crime which, he says
should not be a crime? Yes.
He can say all the above, and more.
And you and I
have the right to listen
and to believe him
but not to stab a body over it
except in the violence of words
the same that imprisoned our species behind the double standard
of morals, of bans on murder
gave us paper wings
so let’s not ban books, even the crappiest of the crap
if it is truly crap, we’ll grow flowers in the wrongness
of the words; they are our only weapons
against the violence
Image captions and credits in order of appearance:
“Indrah the [critically endangered] Sumatran Tiger.” By Nichollas Harrison – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30272956
“A South China Tiger with kill.” By China’s Tiger at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12023577
“A [now extinct] Caspian tiger killed in Northern Iran, early 1940’s.” By Unknown – The Tiger Foundation, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33482934
“Malayan tiger in the water.” 2007. By B_cool from SIN, Singapore – originally posted to Flickr as Tiger in the water, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2889616
Note: I got some valuable information on the plight of tigers from the following website, and I’m sure there is more to explore: http://www.tigersincrisis.com/traditional_medicine.htm