Paper Tiger

The therapist says your mother is
A paper tiger—
she has no power anymore.
But all your younger selves still flinch,
panic at her roar,
refusing to believe
how easy it would be
to fold her into origami.
Instead, these selves band together
guarding each other, careful
not to catch an edge,
knowing even paper
can slice the skin,
a cut that stings for days, months, years,
a constant reminder,
a tender truth
that broke the skin
when you were least expecting it.





Melanie Faranello’s fiction has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize; won the Marianne Russo Award for Novel-in-progress; and short-listed for Sarabande Books’ Mary McCarthy Prize in Fiction, The Dana Awards for the Novel, and the William Faulkner Wisdom Competition. Her work has appeared in StoryQuarterly, Blackbird, Huffington Post Personal, StorySouth, and elsewhere. Recipient of a CT Artist Fellowship Award in Fiction, she is also the founder of the social impact project, Poetry on the Streets. She received her MFA from The New School. “Paper Tiger” is her first published poem. Read more of her work online at

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