Blue Tiger

one crisp clear day in winter you clutched your head

as a radiant cancer devoured the space behind your eyes

 

you floated to the plaster ceiling to escape the blaze

while the madonna of your childhood, dark Isis, earth mother–

 

to whom your grandmother had lit candles in bitter 

pleading since your birth–arrived to hold your abandoned form

 

she placed a golden ring on your finger 

a blue tiger paced at your side in the ether

 

its eyes two amber lamps holding you in muted trance; the scents 

of your grandmother’s altar filled the room: plumeria, sweet orange, clove 

 

on the night you were cremated, a rage broke out in my dream

consuming all in its path, laying gold leaf in its wake from the bed 

 

to the front door, up Sepulveda Pass to an encampment of lost souls 

in the Santa Monica mountains where you were plotting your return

 

the chaparral burst into brilliant embers

black sage, chamise, hollyleaf redberry

 

the blue tiger paced the bluff, raking

a fire break in the earth with its claws

Kim Curts Mattheussens is an emerging poet and student at the Bluegrass Writer’s Studio.