Superhero by Vince Gotera

Superhero
Vince Gotera
                                                        for Kathy

Tiger Woman loped through green jungle.
Hum of insects, bird song, monkey chatter
paused as she drew near and passed, though
she was quiet as a breeze, a wisp of smoke.

That memory filled Tiger Woman’s mind.
When she could slip past tangled trunks
and fronds or petals stippled with rain
would still have drops on them afterward.

When the black stripes on her naked flanks
melted into forest shadows, and she would
be invisible, a voluptuous camouflaged shape
blending into the landscape she sheltered.

But now the hum of electricity and maelstrom
of traffic surround Tiger Woman, do not
respectfully hush upon her approach. People
yell at her, how fine she is, how thick.

They cackle at her tiger print spandex.
Bump against her on the sidewalk, “Watch
where ya goin! Think ya own the street?”
Babble, cacophony, harsh voices, gibberish.

None know how she protects them. Battles
evil forces, duels demons from other realms.
How her tiger senses can feel a dimensional
rift tearing open and malevolent monsters

threatening this world. How she alone wars
with them, drives them back into unspeakable
darkness, their Cimmerian fiefdoms.
Marvels only Tiger Woman can perform.

But the worst indigity of all: her feet hurt.
They hurt all the time in these leather casings
called shoes. Always walking on hard concrete,
not the soft loam of ground below the foliage.

Ah, but such is the life of the superhero. Yes,
there is no longer the honor of old, no longer
the lovely jungle air, and yes, your feet hurt —
there is all of that to un-love, to suffer, but

then you love that moment when the rift
yawns and the abominable, hideous beasts
begin to enter. It is then your blood sings,
your claws slash, you launch into the breach.

Then are you glorious, then is all dishonor
undone, then are you as you were, Queen
Primeval, zaftig warrior of ancient days.
Again, and always, you are Tiger Woman.

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