I Don’t Know Why


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.