'A decision any mother might make upon guessing the intentions of the state'

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Austin Smith lives in rural Illinois and is an acute observer of the world at hand.This poem is from his book Flyover Country, published by Princeton University Press.

 

CAT MOVING KITTENS

by Austin Smith

We must have known,
Even as we reached
Down to touch them
Where we'd found them
 
Shut-eyed and trembling
Under a straw bale
In the haymow, that
She would move them
 
That night under cover
Of darkness, and that
By finding them
We were making certain
 
We wouldn't see them again
Until we saw them
Crouching under the pickup
Like sullen teens, having gone
 
As wild by then as they'd gone
Still in her mouth that night
She made a decision
Any mother might make
 
Upon guessing the intentions
Of the state: to go and to
Go now, taking everything
You love between your teeth.



American Life in Poetry is made possible by the Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2018 by Princeton University Press, 'Cat Moving Kittens', from Flyover Country by Austin Smith, (Princeton University Press, 2018). Poem reprinted by permission of Austin Smith and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2019 by the Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-06.

 

◄ Many Skies Have Fallen: Maggie Sawkins, Wild Mouse Press

Family Likeness: Michael Curtis, Cultured Llama ►

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