“Stray Cat” by Jenny McBride

Victoria park
where I was running
the ducks at water’s edge suddenly running too
and in the empty space of their wake
a tattered cat.
I called him on his hunting
and he meowed, ran after me
hungry, lonely, being eaten alive by the city
but I ran to lose him
not because I don’t love cats
or didn’t want to rescue his painful life
but because I was far from home in a conference hotel.
Was it the same
with the men I approached
when I was young and lonely?
I always took it personally
but maybe they were just figures rendered useless
in the scheme of things
on the day my heart was warming
and years later
they paused to scratch out an excuse.

Jenny McBride’s writing has appeared in Common Ground Review, Rappahannock Review, The California Quarterly, Conclave, Tidal Echoes, Streetwise, and other publications. She makes her home in the rainforest of southeast Alaska.

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