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And then, by the side of the road, I saw the cat. He was huddled, just a few feet the lanes, lying against a concrete barrier. I knew that no healthy cat would just lie in a loud, uncomfortable place like that. I also knew I had important things to do, but I couldn't just ignore a cat in distress. I pulled over and walked up to him. He lifted his head slowly, apathetically, and stared at me with eyes running with mucus. I reached down to pet him, and felt for injuries at the same time. He didn't seem injured, and wasn't even that emaciated, but when I looked in his eyes I could see he had given up.

I picked him up, slowly and gently as I could and carried him to my van. I put him on the passenger seat, and said to him "Don't worry, I am going to help you". But I didn't know how. And I was still driving away from the city, where there might be a veterinarian. Perhaps I already knew what I had to do.

I carried him with me as I left my vehicle, walking towards the acre of green earth in the middle of the high painted hills. His body relaxed against mine, he seemed to trust me.

"Hello" I said to the ground. "I know what you did. I know why you are doing it. But you can't keep them. They were meant to be under the sky, not under the earth. But, there are others for you." and with this, I put the cat down on the warm green ground. He looked up at me, recognition and acceptance flashing below the dullness of his eyes. The grass shuddered, and slowly grew to cover him, and then he sunk inch by inch. I thought I heard him purr.

I went and sat at the picnic table under a sky that now seemed bluer, and noticed the hum of insects which I hadn't noticed before. I wondered at the small mercy I had just done. Even as I saw the grass disentangle and push up two healthy but dazed humans, blinking at the sun, full of amnesia, and even as I knew the cat would be sleeping peacefully in eternity, I still felt my own hand taking a role in the sadness that is transition and loss.

mud puddles, a map of Palestine,

carefully framed, unfolded,

with tiny blue crossed swords

near the battles recorded

in the Holy Land, behind dirty glass,

scales in Geographical and Italian Miles,

Roman Miles, English Statute Miles,

and the rate of travelling on horseback,

3 English Miles per hour,

so I brought it home with Jesus,

woodcut, broken glass in unequal thirds,

in black, white and vivid red, Jesus awkwardly

washing eleven disciples' feet,

his halo looking too heavy,

his face frowning into

thick lines of a dark beard

as if the celebration and betrayal

were more than he could bear alone.

***********

And then by the side of the road, I saw

a shattered mirror, scattered,

showing small bits of blue sky

and the underside of birds,

coming back after winter,

so hopeful, as only birds can be.

We looked up while they coalesced and cackled,

landing in a disturbingly large number

on both sides of the house,

then flew upward as two halves became one,

disappearing, leaving a feeling of unease

although nothing and everything

changed in that moment.


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