For two weeks Ria and I had tiptoed around The mother cat's box, peering in whenever she

Would let us look, the dog's hot breath

At our backs.

And the kittens!

All heads, shut eyes bulging, and the world

All fur, and mother's milk, and wriggling.

Not ours to touch till their eyes had opened.

We waited out the long hot days in our cotton

Pants, a year too young for undershirts,

Under the rain of the sprinkler, harnessed

Pete, the retriever, as horse in our sidewalk

Theater, galloping to the rescue of the

princesses -

Us too - shut up in the swing set's interior.

It was early, the day it happened - so early

it still

Was cool, and grass heavily wet, and the road

Sharp with the smell of new tar - Ria banging

On my door, saying the kittens were gone. We


Back and forth on the floor.

Running and calling

Through the yards, we heard his bark -

found him

Curled around four wriggling kittens climbing

his legs,

Leaving a trail of tiny tar footprints, blinking

Their eyes, nuzzling his soft mouth.

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