Scalene Justice

January 6, 2021

Strange wind off the Potomac
stirs the tiger in our nation’s zoo
pungent, head-heavy
inert inside his cage

Ours is an odd geometry
of marble and bars
stripes and stars, concrete
laurel leaves, bamboo

The cat alerts
tests the air with nostril
and rough tongue
but this isn’t knucklebones
or rabbit—

Heavy jaws part
a few quick pants
a slow blink
then pupils constrict

Sensing chance
the cat rises
alive
shoulders flaring like epaulets
pacing behind upright irons

a mad staccato

            of orange

                        and of black

                                    and of white

Symmetry coming unbound

***

Margaret Bentley has published in New Flash Fiction Review, Hobart, and The Hidden Star. She was associate editor on the last four Sudden Fiction and Flash Fiction anthologies (W. W. Norton). Since 2012, she’s designed and led writing workshop retreats for a creative nonprofit. She lives between far west Texas and Austin where she raised her children in a house with a piece of 1400-year-old pottery. Margaret is part owner of a honkytonk.

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