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Breaking

by Kristen Tracy


The cats seemed to understand
that we didn’t love them—barely
       loved each other—and that we

wouldn’t be lasting long.
       We caught them from behind,

put them in our trunk. We
weren’t cruel. They were placed
       in a cozy box. My lover

found a large rock to go
       on top. Everything was safe

as we rattled to the pound. And are
these your cats? asked the man
       at the pound. No, they weren’t, I said,

they were just cats, we were just a couple
       who’d found them. Really

they were my grandmother’s farm cats—thin,
sick, pink-eyed. She’d grown tired
       of pouring them milk. And if no one

claims them, let me leave my name,
       I said. (I didn’t want them but I’d

take them.) Good of me to have brought
them in, said the man, but these cats
       were doomed—respiratory infections. I drove

with my lover—days numbered—to a hotel
       out of town. Upstairs, we walked in,

the television already running. What about
the rock? he asked. I had it,
       right? And I thought about the rock—

a small moon resting in the trunk’s
       blue carpet nest. All he could think about

was opening our window and dropping it
down four floors, aiming it into a
       man-made lake. He pressed. I said no.

But he got the rock anyway. I
       turned the channel, hyenas laughing

over their fresh kill. Out it went. He said
it would be fun. It landed on the pavement,
       missed the lake completely and

split in two. He shut the window
       and kissed my neck. This is what

I know about my body, it turns
to be loved at every instance, it feels
       warmth and it wants and it wants.

 

Kristen Tracy’s poems have appeared in The North American Review, The Threepenny Review, Quarterly West, Poetry Northwest, Pequod, and elsewhere. She co-edited A Chorus for Peace: A Global Anthology of Poetry by Women (University of Iowa Press, 2002). She teaches creative writing at Western Michigan University, where she is a doctoral candidate.


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