Thursday, April 28, 2011

When There is Death Everywhere

I shadowed the grass with a mistnet under
the bottlebrush tree, halved a papaya,
the tadpole-seeds like pupils gawk
within a hollowed sun. Mousebirds soon came -
one. Three. Seven. Their little red feet snare
in the net. I release them. Sometimes I forgot
about the net and I'd come back to the dead.
I never felt guilty. In Africa a child cannot feel
guilty about death when there is death
everywhere. In the bloated zebras suturing the road
to Amboseli. In the pancaked head of the man
on the way home from church on Christmas
Day. Or in my cat that was found dead under
my window. The escape window. The window found
in every bedroom in Kenya in case thieves came after
you with pangas and orinkas. The cat's last breath
wasn't a breath at all but a final stretch
with his henna-dipped paw, a reach, an urgency
for one last scratch under the chin, a rub behind the ear.
I used to feed him the dead mousebirds.

*finalist for the Mississippi Review Prize, appeared in Mississippi Review Spring 2011

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