Why I Cower

I’m like a lion in the cage
when you come in wielding
your whip and wooden stool.

The kids see the fear in my eyes
and think it’s the whip
driving me back into the corner.

They don’t appreciate my need
to prioritize my attention
on the one most immediate threat.

They don’t realize I’m looking
at the four legs of that stool
all moving in perfect unison.

Four separate points of interest
–four separate threats–
all attacking with equal immediacy.

I am not afraid of the weapon.
I am afraid of the chair.
I am afraid of the thing they take for granted.

But I’m not a lion in a cage.
You aren’t a circus tamer
and they aren’t children.

We’re just two people
in a casual conversation
trying to get to know each other.

But my anxiety and fear are still evident
in my eyes and my body language,
and they still misunderstand

why I cower.

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