by krstaten

I watched you struggle to pick up the cat.
You said, “He’s heavy.” He’s all
fur, all fluff. You grimaced
when you bent down—
wrapped a hand around each side—
He was on his back legs,
half dangling. “He’s really gotten heavy,”
you said. You pulled—
caught your breath.
Turned the cat on his back,
cradled him like an infant,
looked at him with all the love
a parent can afford. “I know I’ve gotten
weak,” you persisted, “But he really has
gotten big.”

You had spent most of that day
weeding the garden.
I know how much pride you take
in making something beautiful
from dirt. You ignore the creaking
in your bones, the swelling in your neck,
the ache in—
just long enough
to pull the cancer from the soil,
to keep it from strangling the roses.
you come inside with hands
bleeding, body aching,
dirt crawling into the cracks
in your skin,
to rest while the weeds inside you