after Edna St. Vincent Millay

No one I knew had yet died.
Only pets, and not the ones
I especially loved.
Just the orange-striped kitten
caught under the car tire,
his body peppered with fleas.
I cradled him until his wild blue eyes closed,
then fetched a Ziploc bag. We buried
him by the ditch, and I cried until
my mother called me in for supper.

But I did not wake the next winter
thinking of him, sobbing with my blanket
in my mouth, and choke out,
What is life? What is death?
Childhood was an island
where no one truly suffered.
My mother never had cancer.
Neither did I. My sister
never swallowed too many pills.
My brother was never caged—
he whooped round the bases
of the little league field and slurped
snow cones and fidgeted in church.
In childhood, I had time to say,
I will never die. Time to say,
My life belongs to me.


Photo By: CameliaTWU