Saturday, April 24, 2010

Totem 1

In the garden, I thin the young kale and beets,
laying the greens on the back steps next to the blood stains.
The half paralyzed rabbit lies nearby in the grass, still as the summer sun
if not for its rapidly beating heart,
homeless and motherless,
even more defenseless than it was in its nest.
Yet am I not supposed to let nature take its course?
When the cat jumped onto the porch the night before,
animal hanging from its mouth,
my first instinct was to run.
But I scared the cat away and watched
as the rabbit went into what I thought were its death throes.
Then I wrapped it in a towel and held it,
measuring its slow breaths.
Like when I counted my father’s breaths as they grew fewer and further apart
until there was one. And then none.
How quickly his body became a waxy effigy.
When I heard the screams of another rabbit I didn’t move. I didn’t look.
A wall went up between me and the porch, all of outdoors.
I tried to pretend there is no suffering.
Which is more worthless?
A paralyzed rabbit or my misplaced compassion?

Now digging in the dirt I find a colony of ants and their larvae.
I scoop up the tiny white sacs along with the dirt and drop them in the trashcan.
I can understand why some of us believe in angels
when all that continues to exist does so at the whim of another.
I choose instead to have an uneasy alliance with everything.

I feed the rabbit milk from an eye dropper;
it hungrily sucks at the tip but struggles to keep it down.
When I check on it a couple hours later, it’s dead.
I think of when it was in my hands
and how it turned its head this way and that until it had my face in its gaze.
It was aware.
It survived the night.
Who was I to oppose that?

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