I swept up what I thought was
a toy on a string, but I was wrong.
The tiny creature, with its lifeline
still attached, was probably born dead.
Could it have been his mother whose
neck was snapped in the trap I set?
Such a sentence for the crime
of being hungry in my kitchen.
August heat blanketed the dank auditorium.
The audience yawned. The poet sagged.
She’d barely closed the book on her last ode
when a hand shot up.
A man asked what sounded more like an accusation
than a question: Why do you write so many poems
She could've said, Same reason one writes about trees
or God or politics. Maybe they need to…maybe it’s
what they love.
Instead, she told him she was raised on a farm,
rose before dawn to milk cows and feed chickens
had a buckskin mare named Frankie,
whose muzzle smelled like sweet corn.
But none of it was true.
She grew up in a row house.
Her animals wore collars with ID tags
and ate from bowls on the kitchen floor.
Yes, she loved them…writes about them
because she can write,
and because words for animals come easier
than words for a lost child.
Gloria Parker is a retired primary school teacher. Her poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Margie, Mad Poets Review, Slipstream, Loch Raven Review, Rattle, Nimrod and South Florida Poetry Journal.