My Mother’s Love
My mother feeds the multitudes of abandoned cats
that live in the field behind our office. Every sundown
she untangles fur, feline lineages. She names each one.
And though they are legion, she does not forget.
She administers heartworm medicine to one hundred
feral cats. She cradles them. Imagine her
frenzy, then, the day the bulldozers come,
a sudden god-congress in the air.
The cats hunker in their homes in the ground.
The bulldozers begin their awful roll. My mother,
at field’s edge, waves her arms, a decoy.
She stands in front of the men and their stomachs,
big rollers of flesh. She does not move, she shouts
until their faces dampen with her spit. She hears the earth
fill with mewling. She digs, she saves thirty-two cats that day,
then takes them home, bathes them, speaks to them calmly
even as they claw up and down her arms. I’m her
witness, I’m buried in this story, down in the place
where collapse is inevitable, where love is
only love if it makes you bleed.
James Allen Hall
“My Mother’s Love” is from Now You’re the Enemy (University of Arkansas Press, 2008).