There were always a lot of cats on the farm,
to the extent that we even had irrational fears of some of the mothers,
like Black Mama;
her a dark mottled calico,
suckling her litter out of the way
in one of the pig sties,
lookout posted in case she might come around the corner.
Another mama had one tell-tale eye glazed over,
and one leg curled up useless by her side;
mangled and uncared for fur tan colored rooted with burs.
And she, in spite of her hard-road ways,
reliability had kittens two or three times a year.
Some one thought she was sexy. Someone thought she was too good to resist.
In fact, most of our kittens survived barely long enough to remember,
and far too short for names.
I remember kittens crushed under the right rear wheel of our shit brown Suburban;
kittens stalked and eaten by wild animals, left to rot as hollow shells of ribs, headless,
empty of innards;
kittens shocked fried stuck stinking
caught up in the electrical underbelly
of the freezer that stood on our porch;
but the death I remember most deserves a short story all its own.
To keep kittens off the front porch,
my dad built a wooden plank across the top step.
This was done in response to the electrocution incident
and because cats were always getting hit by one of the two doors on the porch.
One day a friend of my brother must have been in a hurry leaving our house.
He rounded the corner, as our porch was enclosed by an age-old stone wall,
and stepped right through the wooden plank, kicking it far ajar.
The wooden plank, now dislodged, scraped stone,
but could not hide the sound of kitten crushed
and killed probably faster than it ever knew what hit it.