Their Soft Bodies


Their soft bodies froze so hard: our cat first, iced to the concrete back porch. The cocker tried to bury her pups in rock ground, left in the snow because in my parents' imagination there was a barn out back, full of hay and hot cattle. Pets swam or sank. Their cuddly mass with the funny red eyebrows, the liquid black eye, the curly head mop turned to mushy road kill, burned out with unvaccinated fevers, were chained up in a corner of the yard for years because "wild." Later one tough cat made a life. Black and dirty white. Her stringy flanks survived endless litters, which she trained to hunt snake and gopher. She brought home twitching prey for their lessons. One evening at dusk I'm standing in the yard by the fence, six feet. I can't see over it, only the darkening sky above. I hear the dog panting in the corner. A batch of her skinny kittens, bat wings for ears, leap impossibly to the top and float over like black lillies.

A. B. EMRYS grew up in Arkansas and Arizona and currently teaches writing at UNK in Nebraska. Her prose poems and short shorts appear currently in Key Satch(el), Happy, and forthcoming in Prairie Schooner.