“Gentled” by Caitlin Stobie

gentledAfter Douglas Livingstone

Eleven years after you first
graced our lawn with drawn-out yowls
and yellowed claws,
we have to make the stilted trip.

A receptionist asks for your name.
Is it still the same?
The check-up senses
you were never gentled

but today you are lime-eyed and tame.
My little lost one,
my myth of bone,
stripes of the tiger in zebra chrome.

What an unusual coat,
the woman across says.
Her dark kitten stares.
I smile despite the diagrams of fleas
warnings of disease
and boxes of organic dog biscuits.

A parrot carols its curtain call and
we are next to be shepherded in.
Claws discording metal, crawling the table,
you are

pewter-framed. Mute.
Hot as a crushed bud.

There’s no defining
final moment, no
shaking out a last lungful,
just the hum of fluorescent tubes.

It’s okay. Take two tissues.
I stay until your saliva dries.

On my way outside
with an uncanny cage
the black cat wails; her human
turns away.

Caitlin Stobie is a Commonwealth Scholar at the University of Kent, Canterbury. She was recently longlisted for the Bath Flash Fiction Award, and has won the Douglas Livingstone Creative Writing Competition and the Heather Drummond Memorial Prize for Poetry. Her poems and short stories have appeared in various international journals including FlashuHlangaThe Kalahari ReviewAerodrome and New Coin.

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