I hold you in my arms, your frail
frame twitching and turning in pain.
Open cuts consume your body,
like a can of paint thrown against
an empty canvas. The once smooth
surface of your form is now torn
and bloodied. Tears roll from your eyes,
shimmering as the salt burns deeper into your flesh.
All I can do is take your tiny paw in my hand,
and wait for the pain to pass.
I remember when I got you. My first
day on my own, I stopped by Sam’s
house before I left. He brought you out,
wrapped in a little red and white blanket,
and handed you to me. Young and scared,
you mirrored all of my insecurities. He
told me to take you, so neither of us
would have to be alone.
Do you remember our time in the mountains,
when night would come and the
temperature dropped like an over-ripened
apple from a macintosh tree?
On those autumn nights,
when the sky was set ablaze by lonely
atoms clinging to one another, you
were the only thing that kept the chilled
wind from stealing my toes.
No matter how horrible things seemed
to get, you always found a way to
make me smile. You were like a chameleon
of attitudes, able to alter my mood,
almost instinctively, at the slightest
inclination of sorrow. Now you are nothing
more than a skink, smashed on the side
of the road by an idiot running by, and
I am the fool that didn’t look before he stepped.
I remember the fight, the insult,
your eagerness to defend me.
Swift slashes, cuts and scratches,
growls, bites, body slams. His agility,
your confusion, a flash of pain. You lick
your wounds, trying to recover, and I can
see his rage. He attacks quickly,
you try to reflect, but he thrashes forward,
taking you down as your tail whips helplessly.
I see his teeth clench down on you like a vice grip,
and the gusts from the vultures above
stomp out any embers of hope.
Your body lies on a casket of cold coals,
smoldering as your flame flickers slowly
in the gentle wind. I ****** your head, softly
scratching the back of your neck like you
always liked, and watch as your eyes
start to shut, sleep taking over. Soon
this will be over, and you’ll be safe again,
your body no longer bruised and beaten,
****** and broken. I try to catch my breath
as tears attempt to escape, but I won’t
let them. If this is the last moment
we have, I will not spend it crying.
The fire dies, snuffed out
by the cooling breath of dusk.
Eventually, the rain comes, covering
my cheeks with salt and sorrow.
Through misty eyes, I watch as the
sun sets, amazed that such beauty can
come in the midst of unimaginable despair.
The yellows and oranges fade to red, then
purple, and the sky fills slowly with darkness.
Although there’s been many miles since,
I feel as if I’m back in the mountains,
shivering in the frigid wind, but this time,
you’re not here to keep me warm.