I’ve been reading Calvin & Hobbes lately, so I’ve been in a kind of tiger-y mood, but also this is just a really good poem. It subtly confronts the institutional sexism that has been inherent in marriage in much of the world for many long centuries and has only started to level out in the last 50 years or so.
Adrienne Rich was a fantastic poet whom we were unfortunate to lose back in 2012. It’s worth becoming intimate with her work if you’re not already.
Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers by Adrienne Rich
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.