drawn by over-ripe apples lingering on
tired branches or broken on unkempt lawn.
The half-wild felines shout love songs
down the alley. The rats shake in trees.
Frightened to come down. The cats are tolerated.
I know one stray. A two-tone malnourished creep
comes out of the hedge when I walk to the bus.
He hollers raspy complaints in until I pause,
then pushes against my calf.
Leaves behind chunks of fur.
He's an awkward lover.
Yesterday he played Santa. An iridescent corpse
sat outside my backdoor. Missing an eye,
it's wing half-opened and bent.
This was no easy catch. It was a swallow.
A jet. Cutting through the morning
swooping low over lawns at dusk.
The gift was art. A sonnet.
The product of craft and admiration.
I stared down, thought about misplaced affection.
I wished he had brought it to another house;
one with time for a cat; one that could adopt
a stray and appreciate his craft.
I wondered what the cat expected of me.
Was he watching? Hoping? I sighed.
The gesture was sweet, but...
I went back inside to find the broom and dust-pan.