Issue January 28, 2014

Literary LEO 2014

Poetry — 2nd Place

The Stray
by Georgia Wallace

Weeks before he died it appeared,
lying beneath the monitor’s blinking eye,
tangled amidst the tubes and pumps,
panting to the respirator’s desperate refrain.

Every night when she left the ICU,
it followed her. Every day on the way back
she tried to lose it, but it had their scent.

When she tried calling it closer, it stayed
just far enough away she could not tell
if it was the he or she of this pain.

For a long time it would bare its teeth
when she moved too close.
But it would not leave.

“Don’t feed it or it will stay,” some said.
And she would think of calling the pound
but then she would count its ribs,
would see the look of alone in its eyes.

Since he died it hangs around the yard
until she throws it the bones
of her nightmares. Sometimes now
she invites it into the house
to lie by the fire to dream.