Scanning For Tigers 

The problem, the optometrist said,
lies with print. Eyes were never meant to read
but to scan for tigers. To scan for tigers at a

distance, shift to a close-up of one arm,
where a fallen insect uncurls, walks
among hairs. Back again to distance, alert

for stripes among the foliage. Mindful
of shadow among the shadows,
conspiracies of light. The eyes,

he said, were meant for roaming. The eyes
were meant for wildness. Print, in its ant parade,
tyrannizes. You can never look at a book

the way you look at a woman. The woman
and the tiger share a sinuous flow that lets
the eyes slip by, even as they behold.

No grasping, ever, with the woman or
the tiger, though each may imprint upon the
retina a memory that devours.

At this juncture of history, he said, rare
to see the tiger anywhere. But women!
well, ambush awaits in many a place.

So which is most dangerous? Books also
excite and inflame. Banned and burned and,
come to think of it, some women burned too. 
Blake’s tyger ignited him. Every hunter burns.
So we’re on fire, he said lastly, from all we see.
Books and men and women turn to ashes.

in the end. But the tiger remains an ember.