crookedshore

Mary Karr

I’ve been reading Mary Karr’s Sinners Welcome for the past few months and enjoying her vivid directness. How about this poem, which is really a prayer, titled ‘For a Dying Tomcat Who’s Relinquished His Former Hissing and Predatory Nature’.

I remember the long orange carp you once scooped
from the neighbour’s pond, bounding beyond
her swung broom, across summer lawns

to lay the fish on my stoop. Thanks
for that. I’m not one to whom offerings
often get made. You let me feel

how Christ might when I kneel,
weeping in the dark
over the usual maladies: love and its lack.

Only in tears do I speak
directly to him and with such
conviction. And only once you grew frail

did you finally slacken into me,
dozing against my ribs like a child.
You gave up the predatory flinch

that snapped the necks of so many
birds and slow-moving rodents.
Now your once powerful jaw

is malformed by black malignancies.
It hurts to eat. So you surrender in the way
I pray for: Lord, before my own death,

let me learn from this animal’s deep release
into my arms. Let me cease to fear
the embrace that seeks to still me.

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