Rosa's Poetry Archives: Guest Poet, Ellen Bass

This one is by Ellen Bass, taken from her most recent collection, The Human Line.
(Thanks, Eleven for the recommendation....)

The Woman Who Killed My Cat

I didn't have to hug her. Even
in that first moment when shock
grabbed me by the scruff
and I hung there,
there was still a kind of choice.
And so much time, the seconds
stretching wide as though I'd gone
beyond the pull of gravity.
When she looked at me with the fear
people feel facing other people's pain-
even more since she caused it,
nicked the tawny blur darting
from the curb-I could have
held myself back.
And my elderly neighbor was there
holding the empty fur
that, if I didn't look
on the right side of her head
where the bright pool of blood
has seeped from her mouth,
didn't look dead, looked
as they always say,
like she was sleeping.
I could have turned to him instead.
But she kept telling me how
sorry she was
and I couldn't help myself,
wrapped my arms around her.
Of course she had to return my embrace.
And maybe she needed this too, to be forced
against my grief; a woman
who'd gotten up that morning, like me,
not expecting to kill anything.

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Read Your Way Through the Garden: Choice Tomes From Garden Literature

  • A Book of Salvias by Betsy Clebsch
  • Botany for Gardeners by Brian Capon
  • Making Bentwood Trellises by Jim Long
  • RHS Encyclopedia of Plants & Flowers
  • Rose Primer: An Organic Approach to Rose Selection & Care by Orin Martin
  • Start With the Soil by Grace Gershuny
  • Sunset Western Garden Book
  • Sunset Western Landscaping Book
  • The Book of Garden Secrets by Patent & Bilderback
  • The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Botany
  • the Gardener's Table: A Guide to Natural Vegetable Growing and Cooking by Richard Merrill & Joe Ortiz
  • The Gardener's Year by Karel Capek
  • The Hutchinson Dictionary of Plant Names: Common & Botanical
  • We Made A Garden by Margaret Fish

lotsa latin: rosa's botanical & etymological ruminations

  • vespertinus: flowers in the evening
  • vernalis:spring
  • veni vidi nates calcalvi: we came, we saw, we kicked butt. This was printed on a T shirt I bought at Abbot's Thrift many years ago. It encircled the NEA symbol. I wish I knew why.
  • superciliaris: shaped like an eyebrow ex: sturnella superciliaris, the White-browed Blackbird
  • rosa-sinensis: species of Hibiscus: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. Lit. Rosa of China, so named by British plant hunters.
  • placentiformis: shaped like a cake ex: discocactus placentiformis
  • nudiflorus: flowers before leaves show ex: flowering quince, magnolia
  • nivalis: growing in or near snow ex: galanthus nivalis (common snowdrop)
  • muralis: growing on walls
  • mirabilis: marvellous, wonderful
  • formosa: beautiful ex: dicentra formosa, a.k.a.western bleeding heart/dutchman's breeches/lady in a bath
  • carpe vitam: get a life
  • Carolus Linnaeus: Latinized name of Carl von Linne (1707-1778), Swedish naturalist considered the father of plant taxonomy. Whatta guy.