Abby Caplin


                                                         starting with a line by Kathleen McClung

Time will erase her quandary, now she prays,
needs charity from the gods to acquit
her savagery, squeezing the flea between thumb
and forefinger, a bump struggling to live.
She prays it will not suffer; of course it will.
Her hand, cupping a rainbow of soap
bubbles jiggling delicately in water,
releases the struggler, a reddish-black blob,
legs stirring in a tuft of cat fur under
the surface, growing motionless. She knows
the terror, the acute block of air intake
from sucked-in puffed rice, tough arugula,
fluffed quinoa, cranberry juice, spit, champagne—
death, epiglottis-perched, a swallow away.

Away death, a swallow: epiglottis-perched
spit juice, champagne, fluffed cranberry quinoa,
tough arugula, acute-sucked puffed rice.
She knows the terror of blocked air intake.
But growing under the cat’s motionless fur
surface, legs with tufts of reddish-black,
a stirring—the blob, a struggler releasing
bubbles in water, delicately jiggling
in a soapy rainbow, cupped by her hand.
Suffering? Of course it is. She struggles
not to pray for this bump of forefinger, thumb,
living flea between, her savagery squeezing
the gods, needy for charity . . . Time to quit
her quandary. Pray now, erase, she wills.