Guest poem sent in by Teresa D. Gunnell
(Poem #674) Aunt Jennifer's Tigers
Aunt Jennifer's tigers prance across a screen, Bright topaz denizens of a world of green. They do not fear the men beneath the tree; They pace in sleek chivalric certainty. Aunt Jennifer's fingers fluttering through her wool Find even the ivory needle hard to pull. The massive weight of Uncle's wedding band Sits heavily upon Aunt Jennifer's hand. When Aunt is dead, her terrified hands will lie Still ringed with ordeals she was mastered by. The tigers in the panel that she made Will go on prancing, proud and unafraid.
(1951) This poem has been an echo in my mind since I first read it, largely, I think, because it reminds me of so many women I watched while growing up in rural Missouri. Rich is an amazing poet, her work is laden with meaning and lovely language ("Bright topaz denizens of a world of green. / They do not fear the men beneath the tree; / They pace in sleek chivalric certainty). To me the most pivotal aspect of this poem is the image of a wife, beaten by marriage and conquered by the weight of her wedding ring. While not too overt a feminist chant, it still has a moment of hope, because although Aunt Jennifer was locked in her world, her tigers aren't. There is a shaft of light in this poem - something magical and tangible that remains. -Tess Links: A biography of Rich: http://www.bedfordstmartins.com/litlinks/poetry/rich.htm There's an extensive collection of links at http://www.nt1.nagasaki-gaigo.ac.jp/ishikawa/amlit/r/rich21.htm