Today's poem is by Sally Rosen Kindred

Animal Griefs

I am going to have to say no
      to my first son's hawthorn
and no to my second son's
      ash. And that won't be
enough: it's almost December,

the boys' bodies breaking
      ahead for the trees, arms high,
tearing the rag sky to cinders.
      She was our cat Bea
and she came here like we did

to rest. She will need their hands
      and rain pooled by a firm
pine. Into the dirty waters of our dead
      the ash that was flesh becomes
precious. Hard light drags its claw

through the brine. I find
      a needled sapling and drop
the box, too square for her leaps
      and hungers. My first son
kicks a rock and my second

lifts strips of sodden bark, mottled
      like old fur, pressing them
in mud. He grabs the box. He sings
      and digs his hands in.
He lurches and sings as if there can be

no grief: ash spills and whitens
      his sneakers like snow. Now
our grief's a mess, nothing her needled tongue
      would approve. The boys leap
for torn leaves. They can't be sure

how they care. When I die
      it will be November and the bodies
around me now will steam in cold
      white air. My son's sneakers
are red with the plastic blood

of superheroes and gray and white
      with the memory of breath.
I am going to have to carry
      him out of here: his feet will mark
my legs the way sparrows stain bark

with whistle's ache, their song's sour desire.

Copyright © 2014 Sally Rosen Kindred All rights reserved
from Book of Asters
Mayapple Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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