Perhaps what I have been wanting is after all
a great stirring, the feeling of being moved if not
the movement a tree carries its trunk, stubbornly
ringing each year as if it were a luck, like any thing
that surprises you: a penny on a walk, a mouthful
of feathers, a fistful of song. Once a week the same
woman posts on a neighborhood app I am begging you
keep your housecats inside, the number
of species they have eradicated, extincted, etceteraed.
The woman is not me but I agree with her, listening
out of my window and into the dawn and the little
red throats of the little gray birds all working
on their charm. Imagine each ring in the tree
is a note. Imagine aching as a string, beak-plucked.
Ringing. The woman is not me, I agree.
Listening out of my window for the sweet little bell
necklacing the neighbor’s cat until he gets sick of it
and slides his body over the grass, leaving the bell behind.
Something to do with a tensing and untensing of the muscles.
I suppose. How I am to know anything when my own body
barely speaks to me. Is there ever anything besides a hiss.
Windowframed, the cat does what you would imagine. He
is practiced at his art. Licked lipped, tail swung, grass bellied
until pounce. A mouthful of feathers. A toothful of blood.
And all of the other little birds so quickly winged
themselves into air and away. It must have felt
like a triumph. It must feel like a beauty,
that kind of clarity. This kind of fear.
Emma Bolden is the author of House Is an Enigma (Southeast Missouri State University Press), medi(t)ations (Noctuary Press), and Maleficae (GenPop Books). The recipient of a 2017 Creative Writing Fellowship from the NEA, her work has appeared in The Norton Introduction to Literature, The Best American Poetry, The Best Small Fictions, and such journals as the Mississippi Review, The Seneca Review, StoryQuarterly, Prairie Schooner, TriQuarterly, and Shenandoah. She currently serves as Associate Editor-in-Chief for Tupelo Quarterly and an Editor of Screen Door Review. Her memoir, The Tiger and the Cage, is forthcoming from Soft Skull Press in 2022.