The Kittens

There are too many kittens.
Even the cat is dismayed
at this overestimation
of her stock and slinks away.
Kind friends cannot adopt them all.
My relatives say: take them
to a bazaar and let them go
each to his destiny. They’ll live
off pickings. But they are so small
somebody may step on one
like a tomato.

Or too fastidious to soil
a polished shoe will kick it
out of his path. If they survive
the gaunt dogs and battering heels,
they will starve gently, squealing
a little less each day.

The European thing to do
is drown them. Warm water
is advised to lessen the shock.
They are so small it takes only
a minute. You hold them
and turn your head away.

Then the water shatters. Your hands
are frantic eels. Oddly
like landed fish, their blunt pink mouths
open and shut. Legs strike out.
Each claw, a delicate nail
paring, is bared.
They are blind and will never know
you did this to them. The water
recomposes itself.
Snagged
by two cultures, which
shall I choose?

 

-Maki Kureshi

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