The pads of your paws scrabble
as I drag you from the tunnel
clamped to the shiny green trap,
a baby, hell-bent on saving
your twist of life, spun
from the same cells as I am, the common
intelligence of fins, wings, limbs.
The first time you see the sun
you’re splayed on your back, the shadow
of my blade above you.
Your ears, tiny colorless petals,
and at the tips of your articulated fingers,
ten frantic claws. When I strike,
your mouth opens stunningly
wide, a scream so silent
all sound is sucked down the naked
whirlpool of your throat. I hate
that I can salvage nothing.
I can’t skin and eat you, stuff or display
your fur on the mantel.
I won’t carve a needle
from your bone. Bit of breath
I bury under a stone.

Originally published in Plume. Copyright © 2016 by Ellen Bass. Used with the permission of the poet.