A kitten sits outside on my neighbor’s patio ledge,
and, being a kitten, boxes butterflies and weeds.
Tawny and feral, hungry . . . but not hungry
enough to frolic close to Mary’s open hand
offering day-old tuna, and font of bottled water.
Irked, she turns her back to the animal, tires
of compassion, only allows it camouflage –
hooded along the wall in wild fern fronds
and thorny blooms. Un-adorable now, it
will soon all but starve, stationary target
for talon and beak into its throat.
Mary’s recollection will seep into comfortable amnesia.
Conceive new phantoms to stalk beneath fresh moon’s
verdict. Maternal impulse set aside, my good neighbor
exhales and grapples with a way to seal her door.
Sam Barbee's second poetry collection, That Rain We Needed (2016, Press 53), was a nominee for the Roanoke-Chowan Award as one of North Carolina’s best poetry collections of 2016. He was awarded an "Emerging Artist's Grant" from the Winston-Salem Arts Council to publish his first collection Changes of Venue (Mount Olive Press); has been a featured poet on the North Carolina Public Radio Station WFDD; received the 59th Poet Laureate Award from the North Carolina Poetry Society for his poem "The Blood Watch"; and is a Pushcart nominee.