Once, I worked for a veterinarian…
The kitten was too small for anaesthetic,
its eyes had hardly opened, she was unspeakably young.
Her cornea had been abraded by her mother’s own infectious tongue,
rough with tooth-like hooked papillae, scoured her eye
in a misplaced act of gentleness transformed into brutality
by the ignorance of love.
First the cornea succumbed to clouding,
then the lens, faint colours quickly fading,
until even the tapetum lucidum, that bright tapestry,
dimmed like a tarnished mirror, relinquishing
its iridescent blue, extinguished before night.
The eye was swollen to a pendulous tuber
by the time that her owners brought her in;
a grey-green agate the size of a yew berry jutted,
tremulous, from that small skull.
I held that fevered body in one hand,
drugged with opiates, as the veterinarian lapped
the spongy orbit with the nurturing blade,
expunging the eye and most of the socket.
My finger were hooked beneath her armpits,
holding her still as she, unconscious, writhed.
The eye plopped free, stone-coloured decay
landed and split against the mirrored surgical table,
kept at all times scrupulously clean and anointed with bleach.
What followed was a scent unlike any other; sharp,
and hideously appetizing; grapes softened to brownish purple rot,
the most ancient of cheese, rising like an offering as I packed the cavity
with gauze and antibiotic cream.
I sewed shut the eyelid with my own right hand,
another pointed tongue inflicting her with life,
and left her clean and addled in the cage that I had drawn her from
to awaken there in rags and squalor, to meals, and the rattling bars.