Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Tiger Song

I wrote this Tiger Song in response to an USAID announcement that they were about to map the tiger's genome. It was published in the Kathmandu Post. If you want to sing it, drop me a line!

The Tiger Song

Tiger, Tiger
burning bright, in the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye--could frame thy fearful symmetry?
But today you are going to be genomically mapped,
your genes extracted, sequentially isolated, trapped,
Great scientists will use your genes
to splice into a fish, create a monster tiger-fish
to be turned into a restaurant dish.

Maybe they will put your soul into a mouse, or a vole,
to see if mice can act, with your ferocious strength
If the mice escape the lab, too bad.
The lab has stated in a disclosure statement—
did you read it?—it is not responsible
for things that occur outside its four walls.

Maybe these great scientists of our times,
take a fancy to your stripes, and splice your fur
into a rabbit to see, if he will metamorposize
into wild lingerie. Imagine the billions
in profit! Stocks will soar! Wall Street
will go hysteric over bras and panties.

We are sorry, but mutations do at times occur.
If the woman wearing this garment starts to itch,
and dies of an unknown feline disease,
science must shrug and say: “it wasn’t properly tested.”
Or better yet: “Maybe she was wearing it in the wrong climate.”
Ethics begone, that is so nineteenth century. Now is the time
for unlimited progress, nothing will stem this tide of greatness,
Anybody who says: wait, lets talk about this
is a crazy Luddite. Lets tag and surveill them
as Homeland Security threats, and if they insist,
we have to divest them of employment.

Kudos to you, investors
all, who’ve hedged your funds with these great inventions.
Go ahead, drink, its time for celebration!
The world is at the height of its technological prowess.
The tiger is tamed
brought down to his genomic blueprint!
Everyone will bow to science.
Commerce will reign supreme. No barriers now remain
all of nature’s gold is yours to take. As God promised
and said: Conquer this Promised Land.
The bioprospector smiles, at his zenith.
This endless rush will never end. The end of the tiger
is near—every other being will follow in a golden vein.

But wait, there’s more—the tiger wakes,
and suddenly roars. The end of Rome is in sight,
Nero fiddling as Rome burns bright. Those of you
who go against God’s law, know in your souls
that this can’t hold. Today you will profit, but tomorrow
you will lose, when children ask you:
why did you support this terrible course?

Sushma Joshi 
Published in the Kathmandu Post

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