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Nature is indiscriminate. Just this week twenty-
two animals are no longer in danger, they’re
extinct. The ivory-billed woodpecker, a bat,
some river mussels with names like “squash
blossom”, a warbler. One plant. This week
it rained for the first time in 205 days. Imagine
a bird so baffling, so stunning it demands you
call out for God. Imagine a rain so toxic it turns
pools green. In the alley between houses, a den
of coyote have made a home in a drainage ditch
packed with leaves. They eat from the trash
and leave the clean chicken bones on my front
step. One gave birth on a pile of synthetic cob-
webs stolen from a bush decorated for Halloween.
They kill small animals at night. The more this
happens, the less meat I eat. There was a meeting
about how to shoot them, everyone wore masks. 
Once, I watched my brother lose his virginity under
a crooked cypress tree. Once I cut my finger and used
real blood to paint the inner thighs of my Barbie.
This was years before I decapitated the possum,
before I stopped the car, retrieved the body
and took it home for mounting. Have you never
killed anything? As kids, my brother and I fought
over the wishbone. He learned how to snap it with
his wrist so I always lost. I collected the remnants
in an orange Tupperware container and carried
it back and forth to school every day of the 1st grade.
That year, I trimmed my hair with dull school scissors,
kept a little box of clippings in a pink paper box
with stapled edges. Eventually my mother caught
me, confiscated it all, never said anything.

Kate Sweeney has poems appearing in Northwest Review, Variant Lit, The Shore Poetry, SWWIM, LunchTicket & forthcoming from Muzzle Magazine, & Jet Fuel Review. She has a chapbook, The Oranges Will Still Grow Without Us [Ethel]. Kate is Marketing Director for The Adroit Journal & Word is Bond reading series and resides in Los Angeles.

© 2022, Kate Sweeney

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