Some men don’t hate marriage,
or slavery for that matter.
Nor can they ever own enough land.
When I was a girl back on the farm
I surprised a wild tomcat in the hayloft.
He was eating a kitten,
its eyes still shut tight
like apple buds. The shutter clicked
as he looked at me, his expression fixed.
I still think he knew what he was doing,
though not why,
which makes him almost human,
or makes us almost feline.
I could hear the other kittens
somewhere in the hay,
deep in the hidden nest
established by our barn cat
when she felt them coming.
How many did he take, I wondered,
and how can I punish him?
About her piece, juror Sunshine Glenstone writes: “The ‘cruelty,’ or predatory aspect of nature, the interplay of human and animal motivations and desires, the determined character of the young female narrator, combine to give the reader a glimpse into what may be a first attempt by the speaker to set things right in the world of animal relationships. The evocative poem ends with a question hinting at the speaker’s realization that the matter before her is full of unknowns and impossibilities. All of this is achieved with debatable declarations about men, a philosophical statement, and a rather unforgettable image of a kitten.”
About the poet: Connie Wanek lives in Duluth, Minnesota. Her latest book, released in January, 2010, is On Speaking Terms from Copper Canyon Press. She was named a Witter Bynner Fellow of the Library of Congress by US Poet Laureate, Ted Kooser.
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