I’ve learned not to open the door
when I hear the assassin’s crow
disguised as a distress call;
instead, I look out the window
to confirm the slaughter, see
small, furry hind legs dangling
from the calico cat’s mouth.
I know I must praise her
for her skills as a huntress,
thank her for her generous
contributions to the household,
but I cannot bring myself to let her
ferry this death-omen
across the threshold that
holds the cruel world at bay.
Sneaking out the back door,
I invite her to present her kill
to me in the front yard
among the budding flowers,
stroke her head with words
of effusive admiration.
But later, when she has tired
of the game and gone to take a nap,
it is I who must gather the entrails
of the innocent young rabbit
who sinned not but only mistook
the right moment to leave
the grassy cloister and cross the lawn.
The task that one nauseated
me I now take in stride:
“Another bunny; I’ll get
the dustpan and a plastic bag,”
though I try to discharge my duties
with as much dignity as possible.
But still I mourn the lost life
as I look into the still-open
eyes of the victim,
hoping he didn’t suffer too much
and that his mother hasn’t lost
all her young.
T. Allen Culpepper