Awaiting the Panther

Patrick Cotter

After the surgeon’s cuts
she was left with the face 
of a lion and styled her hair
in a leonine mane.
Her father had pushed tyres
all his working life.
In her four year old brain
tyres’ melded with ‘tigers’; and the phrase
‘radial tigers’ puzzled 
her during the long
kindergarten afternoons,
wondering why daddy never
brought home a big striped cat.

Her home’s interior
she had decorated
only in red, wishing
for an ‘incarnadine’
lifestyle: the latest
to yearn for, according
to Sunday supplements.
Scarlet linoleum, crimson
curtains and lampshades,
wallpaper with patterns
of roseate blooms kept her
company as she waited
in patience each evening
for the man who moved
with the grace of a panther,
the man who would stare
her down with a gaze
that could turn a gazelle
mid-leap to stone;
the man she had never met
but hoped would come.