Op-ed

(how to love a wild thing)~for Mojo, Pip, and Mosby


March 29, 2017

1. first you were a mouse running in frantic circles on the cold gravel path till your tiny paws were raw

you were as white as the lie i told myself when i said i could let you just scurry on by

and let nature take its course

i scooped you up in my coffee cup and fed you crumbs of my warm food

till your belly was full and your tiny legs stopped shaking

i decided to keep you back to health until the saplings burst through soft soil and green spring began

when the icicles turned from frosty white to clear and dripped water in a trickling stream

through the budding plants,

i knew it was finally time

to let you go back

i knew where you belonged

and it wasn’t with me

i took you in my coffee cup

it was much heavier now

and you were gnawing at the white styrofoam with your impatient teeth

and i released you in the grass

you scurried off and disappeared

and now i watch more carefully where i step

for a pair of twitching whiskers,

or four scrabbling paws

2. then you were a small bird with splinted wing fallen from a tree when i found you

i could see your heart heaving in your chest

no larger than a bean

i could see every ounce of intent to live pulsing in the skin beneath your fledgling feathers

i held you in the palm of my hand and let you nip at my fingers

with your tiny piercing beak

hungry for my pink fingertips

i sunk my hands into the soft soil and dug up tiny worms to drop into your expectant reaching mouth

when your wing finally healed back into place

i removed the heavy splint and you sang a song       a song of healing sweeter than absolution

you brought me twigs and placed them in my hair

till i had a crown fit for a bracken queen

i thought you would fly off as soon as your wings were ready

instead you pierced your beak through my ribcage

and brought twigs and mud through the spaces

till you’d made a small brambly nest between my lungs

you still come back every now and then to nestle in your glowing hearth

but i spend most of my time feeling the prickling sensation when i breathe

and looking up at the sky

3. you were a shaggy dog more wolf than canine and i called you monster

you truly were a beastly thing

but you taught me that monsters weren't that way

because they were born evil

but because they were born too tall

too strong or too heavy

you may have been mighty as a monster

but there was no evil anywhere in you

I climbed a mountain with you and let you share

in half my food, and you thanked me with heavy panting, hairy paws, and a wet, snuffling nose in my lap

i didn’t know the sickness that grew in your long bones

you still walked among the grass, trotted like a humble prince

denying that your pain came from the same source

as your elegance and power

when you couldn’t walk anymore you sat in bed and whimpered

i showed you pictures of the mountains

but you just buried your head

it was then that i knew

no wild thing should hold providence in a world of pills and pillows

you had already lost when your paws could no longer carry you among the beasts

when I said goodbye to you, I never could have imagined that it would be like this

but i know now that wild things aren’t mine to keep

that they are meant to be mine for a time but free for forever

I hope that now you are free

I hope that now you can see every mountain you ever climbed or never climbed

I hope the view is beautiful