I watched my mother die, but did not cry.
I am usually quite a weeper.
Before, not long after my father died—
my tears for him had long before been shed
held firm grim and stoic through his funeral—
I saw Nelson, our good-natured cat
stretched out on the patio in the sun.
I bent down to stroke his tabby fur
and in a moment so instant I think
some other senses were at work
my arm recoiled with a breath
that powered forth a keening cry
I did not anticipate nor understand
but that pealed through the neighborhood
as I fell apart and wept.
My children and my wife
were more upset by my wailing
than by the loss of our loved one.
I once had a large, lop-eared rabbit buck
an albino research rabbit rescue
I naively thought would spawn a herd
of salable meat for our urban farm
but became a pet, and when the neighbor’s
dog did the natural deed that I could not
I did not cry over his stiff body
I got mad and moved away in angry spite.
The cat put down by poison at the vet’s
had been abused before we took him in—
a doc had found a .22 slug lodged
next to his spine, the x-ray showed in scars
a miracle path through tangles of gut.
Lucky. His name was Minus. He was Manx.
He quivered in my arms as the plunger
infused his sleeping body with release.
I sobbed as if some small portion of life
that warms the world had joined some larger place
of which none huddled here can really know.
Moved more by the deaths of my animals
than by those of my so-called flesh and blood,
I don’t know why.
I don’t know why
I don’t know why I don’t.