Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers


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.

 

Alright.  It's been a while since I've done this so I'm 

a little rusty.  I'll just dive right in.

I think that this poem deals with domestic violence.  While 

it does not come right out and say it, there is evidence 

throughout the poem.

The first thing that indicated this to me was the presence of 

the tiger.  The tiger is a strong animal, on top of the food 

chain.  Tigers don't take no crap from anyone.  They stand up 

for themselves.  Aunt Jennifer weaves these tigers over and over, 

though it's difficult to pull the ivory needle.  The tigers, 

dancing, proud, and unafraid, are what Aunt Jennifer struggles 

to be.  She fails, so that's what she struggles to produce.

The next thing that made me believe that the Uncle in this poem 

beat her was the massive weight of the Uncle's wedding band.  

The massive weight implies that it's big and overbearing, not a 

light ring that's a constant reminder of love.  It is a burden, 

a constant pressure to always be her best out of fear of how her 

husband will react.  

The last clue dealt again with Aunt Jennifer's hands and her 

wedding ring.  "Her terrified hands will lie" is a use of 

synecdoche.  Her hands are terrified because every part of her 

is terrified of her husband.  "Still ringed with the ordeals she 

was mastered by" deals with the wedding ring.  He used his power 

to master her, the ring was a reminder at how subdued she was 

under his strength.