Tiger With a Toothpick

27 Mar
( from an ancient parable)

2 Bengal tigers terrorized a village
they were notorious 
for killing goats, cows, and eating even people

a sadhu holy man passing through heard the stories
a pacifist and a vegetarian, he convinced the village leaders
not to hunt the tigers --
he would have a holy conversation with them
persuading them to leave the village alone 
--the village elders nodded

he walked into the jungle where the tigers reportedly lived
after a few hours, 
heard growls behind him 

they were hunting him
he tried to keep his nerve, 
shouting Sanskrit mantras

their shining green eyes
told him they were happy to meat with him
though he would only be a stringy snack
from his much fasting

sprinting, the sadhu
felt the rancid breath from one of them
just before his long-jump leap off the high cliff

whooshing downward, 
reached the hand & managed to snag a vine
which broke his fall --he hung there dangling, 
suspended halfway down

looking up 
saw the tiger that almost clamped him salivating above

looking down
saw the hungry mate waiting with mouth open to catch him

the vine he was holding wasn't very thick
little mice came out of the cliff holes 
& began nibbling the vine
the fibers began snapping, giving way

a strawberry bush grew out of the cliff's side
he picked one of the juicy berries
mashed it in his mouth
the sweetest he'd ever taste

1.4 8.8/7
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Posted by on March 27, 2022 in Poetry


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