Aleppo Cat

Poem from Dark Sky Park by Philip Gross

                         First, months

of flash, thud, shudder,

 

then the wailing...

                            Months,

that's half a young cat's life

 

and three or four more of her nine

already used up.

                          Hush,

 

ears perked, head cocked,

she's listening

                            to the sound

 

that's no sound, no voice, not

a throb of engines, not one

sound of human.

                           Now

 

she slinks, always liquid enough

to shrink through cracks,

now starved to whisker-thinness

 

- pauses,

                wide eyes

between tumbled blocks,

the first living thing out

among the heaps of mudbrick

dust, of a...

                    who could say

 

street? She checks the cat-map

in her mind. The market...

Where the bread smells came from...

Gone.

          And where the fish man

tossed the bones.

                            Gone.

 

Where the children chased her

with fierce cuddles, too young

to know their strength.

                                  Gone,

and their voices,

 

                         out late playing,

their mothers calling them home.

Home, gone. Aleppo,

                                 gone, gone, gone.