In the old days, Tiger’s den was littered with bones;
remnants of long-ago feasts and forgotten mistakes.
Long ago, he’d curl up in the chill of night,
letting the bones dig into his body as he slept.
He’d think to himself, if only some dog or bear
would come and steal away these bones, clean up
this damned den. And random beasts passed through
leaving more bones, till his den became a graveyard.
Finally fed up, night by night a single bone removed
he’d bear it out between his vicious teeth,
each day sleeping a little bit cozier, until
there were none left, and his den was left bare.
A few weeks passed, in this immaculate state,
before the walls of his newly-clean den echoed
a chittering sound from just beyond the cave,
a chittering voice from just at the edge of his life.
April 30, 2004