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The Friday Poem: ‘Cruelty to Animals’ by James Brown

New work by Island Bay poet James Brown.

Cruelty to Animals

We got you so the children
could learn about looking after
something more vulnerable than themselves
– aged 4 and 6 as they were –
learn how to feed you and keep your
water topped up, and to let you
in and out when you wanted to go
in and out, which is frequently,
and to protect you and provide you
with affection. Which they did,
though I am sure there were times
when you, also, felt they didn’t
quite get it right, particular
as you are. But now, like their
mother, queen of the dramatic
exit, they’ve left for bright new futures,
and yet here you still recline
– single, spayed, catered for – your
comfortable life stretching
beyond its natural expectancy.
Believe me, I understand about
coming to the end of usefulness,
the difficulty of continuing to make
a contribution, of not becoming
a burden. The days go on and on.
Soon it’ll be Easter – a time when
sacrifices have always been made – and,
sadly, neither child will be home this year
to bestow the kind of unconditional love
you helped foster, which is going to be
absolutely devastating
for us both.


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