I found a wild kitten lost in the woods
I found a wild kitten lost in the woods.
The top of one white paw was gone
revealing a splay of bones,
like four white rods of an automaton.
Her eyes were shut. Her mouth was tight.
She swayed in pain, holding the front leg in the air—
a gesture of trust? I stepped forward and
saw she was dying.
When I conceived that first child, I did not know
that the hand of God stitching a single cell
into the deep, secret pink folds of my uterus
would change me forever—would stitch some sort of thread
from the base of my diaphram
to the abandoned fawn sucking on my leg—
to four clay-buried, hot, fertile eggs of a red-eared slider—
to this wee kitten who hissed without opening her eyes.
I lost that baby, but I did not lose maternity—
I did not lose the instinct to make room on my chest
for every rooting, dying thing. God, that little cry.
God, oh God.
When my milk came in,
when there was no child to take it,
I felt it burst and run hot over my empty belly;
I held out my arms to the world and said,
“But, I am a mother.”
And the house was silent.
Today I found the same two rangers
who had promised to help
looking for the kitten.
They had let nature take its course,
like men so often do.
They recognized me and flinched.
“Absolvo,” I said,
though the wood smelled of death.
A light rain fell across their jacket shoulders,
tittering on the broad summer leaves above them.
Here were two grown men with boy faces,
wearing leather gloves,
and carrying a white garbage bag.
They were searching intentionally now,
looking through all the undergrowth,
for her body.
I put my head down, walked on in silence,
waited till I got around the bend to choke—to gasp.
I felt the earth spin; I reached my hands wide;
I stood still,
surrounded by a bird song requiem.
Brahms wrote for the living, not the dead—
and that is faith, I suppose—
granting the minor key its measures
then pulling out of it—
believing there is resolve to the dissonance
of all that dies lonely and lost
in a miscarrying world.