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By James Von Hendy

CW: Pet death

They bring our cat into the room, catheter on a hind 

leg,  a trail of clear tubing, two lime green valves  the vet 

will open one by one,

a trickle of bright blood in the tube

normal the vet reassures us

as they settle her on the table—

normal a sudden spring of tears—our girl

lying on her side,

her snow-white flank rising,



steady despite the cancer pressing her 

trachea,  steady when the first valve turns

and sedation floods her veins.

Would it be a balm if we, like her, knew

nothing of death and sorrow,

only how she comforts us,

a paw stretched out in greeting,

a leg to rub against,

a lap to curl in and nap,


the familiar even here:

my wife strokes her back,

fingers trailing through her fur,

I slip my hand beneath her head,

bend my face to hers,

rub a thumb along her cheek,

normal normal normal

I try to tell myself, normal

until the last valve turns.

Her eyes flit uncertainly to mine,

her head sinks slowly into my palm,

her neck goes limp,

and she is gone.

trailing-off (Jake photo).jpg

About the Author

James Von Hendy (he, him) earned a BA in English and Philosophy at Boston College, and an MA in English Literature from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. A senior technical writer, engineering manager, life coach, and poet, his recent work has appeared in or is forthcoming in Aji Magazine, the Remington Review, Hubbub, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, and others. He is also the author of a chapbook, Rain Dance. He lives in California in the beautiful Santa Cruz mountains with his wife and their cats.

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