a soft thing that purrs in your lap,

a lion gently licking

his mate’s genitals

to awaken her,

a panther pacing in a cage,

the fear that bites your finger

and won’t let go

when you grab the nape

of your cat’s neck

from the dog’s fangs.

.

You, too, became feral once:

against his words

against his fists.

You hissed

spit

stopped him

with your inferno eyes—-

the imagined taste

of his blood

on your tongue,

sweet revenge.

You grabbed your kits

and bolted

from the tyranny

of the one

who mistakenly

thought himself

your keeper.