There always were a lot of cats on the farm,
and kittens birthed so often that imagined
irrational fears of mothers like Black Mama, a dark mottled calico,
stuck fast in mind and memory.
Suckling her litter out of the way in one of the pig sties,
our lookout posted so she could not catch us unawares
should she come round the corner.
Another mama had one tell-tale eye
puss green pale filament stabbing me a ray of evil light in the dark of middle night,
one leg curled up useless by her side,
mangled tan fur rooted with burs.
She reliably had kittens two or three times a year.
Some one thought she was sexy. Someone thought she was too good to resist.
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;
eaten by wild animals, left to rot as hollow shells of ribs,
headless empty of innards;
shocked fried stuck stinking caught up in the electrical underbelly
of the freezer that sat squat and cold on our porch,
but the death I remember most deserves a story all its own.
To keep kittens away
my dad built a wooden plank across our porch top step.
a friend of my second older brother must have been in a hurry leaving our house.
He rounded the corner of our porch enclosed by age-old stone wall
quickened pace stepping right through said wooden plank,
plank kicked far ajar, now dislodged
scraped stone, but could not hide the sound of kitten crushed
and killed faster than it ever knew what hit it.