Knees bent, glove to the grass,
I scooped the scuttling rabbit
in a way Coach might have praised
as textbook. Inside its shoebox home
padded with lettuce and sprouts,
its refusal surprised me. I did not
take this as a warning,
even as it shivered and puled
in the way living things
communicate the urgent.
I did not sense, that evening,
I could still have saved it
It was just a baby, with no interest
in baseball, yet it came with us
to the next day’s game,
bounding in its box over railroad tracks
across State Line. Only on the way back
did I discover it had broken its neck.
Drive faster, please, I pleaded with my dad
as its squeals grew mute and desperate,
realizing after we got home
that the vet is closed on Sundays.
In the car, door ajar, my palm was cradle
and deathbed. The creature wrenched
and heaved, the body as burden,
each motion an apology.
There was no countdown, no clock,
every second fraught until the final out.
An unconscionable and cruel
length of time later, sudden
as a miracle, it fell weightless,
pulled through some trapdoor.
This was my initiation
into death and its mysteries,
how mass can disappear through skin.
I buried the rabbit in the backyard
and sought forgiveness for days after
in the silences we experience alone.
So there are, after all, consequences to living.
© ANTHONY TAO
PUBLISHED IN Naugatuck River Review (ISSUE NO. 17, Winter/Spring 2017)