Kitten Killer

Sunday morn­ing:
brake lights flash, hold, then
flicker, cars
flank, ac­cel­er­ate 
down Scranton Avenue around
a wet ball of
lint, twitch­ing in
a pud­dled gut­ter, er­rat­i­cally
jerk in grey and
white, wet by the curb. I pull
over, and get to the
kit­ten just be­fore
the chil­dren.

“Stay away!” I say. “You don’t want to
see this.” This be­ing,
the hot breath­ing
body, the head blood di­lut­ing in
a dirty pud­dle, the tiny hind paw
dig­ging fu­ri­ously at
air. I touch its head, half-
flat­tened, and feel the shat­tered
shell of skull
slide in­side and
up my arm and
into an ache in
my teeth.

I turn the shud­dered bones
slightly, this skein of spirit in
my hands, knit
then rav­eled, take its
head in hand
press nose and
mouth into the half
inch of red wa­ter swirling
about ebon ears and sil­ver fur. Press
firmly. A new gush of blood, the 
tiny claws find pur­chase along
the in­side of my
wrist; 
I am here for it,

to the last,
to the fright­ful mo­ment of
pas­sage, even in this tiny
kit­ten the fury of life
hopes, even as I take it.

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