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Volatile Summer

August 31, 2016

Volatile Summer


Great Blue Heron

stalks frogs early morning

on bird legs, beak long it struts

the edge of pond.


I startle it.

Wings span and soar away.

Just like that, it’s gone.


This summer was that kind of summer.

The fleeting and difficult kind.

The volatile verging on violent kind.

The kind where life and loss coincide,

two sides of a beautiful and tragic coin.


We lost four beloved animals,

two to traffic, two to nature,

all four losses sudden.


Our duck KB,

who had recently taken a liking to crossing the street,

was hit by a car on his morning jaunt,

leaving behind his once inseparable partner, Max,

our resilient and now solitude duck, 

who had survived massacres and brutal winters,

only to be alone once again.


But then two weeks after KB passed,

a red fox snatched Max

before our very eyes.

We saw it through a bright and brutal window

of paned glass and a sliver of time.

We ran outside and it was over

in a mess of blood and feathers,

the fox driven by an innocent hunger,

“natural” as the heron hunting frogs in the pond.

That which is innocent can still be barbaric.


Around that same time,

our dear cat Lightning

who loved walking the gardens with us

who never asked for anything, but always gave us love

was run over by a car and survived

with a dislocated hip the vet popped into place.

But even after a time of healing, he still couldn’t walk without falling,

though he kept trying, persistently, to join our roams in the gardens.

The day before we were to take him back to the vet,

he fell into the path of a moving car

and we cried for the deep pain of all of it.


Our loving cat Eva, aged 16 years old,

our oldest and toughest and sweetest cat,

our watchdog cat, caretaker of children,

loyal lap sitter, silent companion, soother

of anyone crying— lost her sparkle and spunk,

stopped eating and drinking, caught a simple,

unbeatable cold and became too weak

to jump up on the bed. When I cried for her,

she didn’t make her soothing noises.

It was the only time in her entire life

she didn’t move to soothe me.

It was breath-stealing to say goodbye.


A few days after we buried Eva,

I dreamed of my sweet cat Moonglow

who disappeared years ago.

In my dream he had never gone.

The next day, a new and friendly blue-grey kitten

found me in the hostas, bounced right up to me,

into my arms, onto my lap, into my home.

For five days she played

and then suddenly was gone.

I like to think she returned to

a loving home she had left temporarily

because Eva sent her to me, to soothe me

one last time and to offer a symbol

of Eva’s newfound energy, and perhaps, even,

to share a sign of Moonglow’s eternal love.


How sublimely volatile

every single moment,

so volatile it verges on violent

that we can come to know tragedy

of loss only because we’ve known beauty

of life, fleeting and difficult

to grasp as single grains of sand.

So we take handfuls, hold on

to what we can

and try to let go

with gratitude

and grace.


--by Diana Tigerlily, 2016





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