How We Ask Young Children To Hide

we say imagine
a zoo animal
now roams the halls

what hunts?
call it a tiger

(their minds make a tail
stripes one yellow eye)

we say stand stiff as statues
between copy paper towers
flash cards faux leaf
garlands waiting for fall

and nobody breathes
(ears peeled to catch
a huff snarl clack of
claws on linoleum)

how absurd to picture
such a beast slinking past
life cycles of beans

sniffing lunch trays half
eaten still warm macaroni
clarinets strewn mid-coda

or maybe a tiger makes
some sense—a child could
safely dream a tiger

padding through rows
of empty desks but

we never explain why
heartbeats must either
fill supply closets or
become lists of names

we never say imagine
a toothless tiger

Lauren Endicott is an emerging poet. She was recently selected as a finalist in the West Trade Review poetry competition, and she has a poem forthcoming in The Duck Head Journal. She is currently studying for her masters in social work in the Boston area where she lives with her spouse, her two children, and an adoring cat. Read other articles by Lauren.