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I arrived with

four blonde little girls

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making their daily pilgrimage

to my neighbor Sam's house -

and found myself, against my will,

invited in to witness

the miracle of kittens.

A large, silky gray cat

stretched the length of a long

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cardboard box

while children ripped the sucklings -

with violent adoration -

from her nipples.

The big mother cat

never growled or bit.

Sam, a broad-shouldered

joyous old man,

said that's because she trusts.

Patient and kind, he explained

to the girls

that the mother cat

needs nurturing, too -

describing how they should speak

quietly to her, stroking gently.

He held the only black-colored kitten

up by her downy, kitten tummy

so I could see her face -

human like a clown's face -

eyes enlarged by white paint -

cheeks widened by stripes -

a pudgy, flattened nose -

And I felt the dusty comfort

of Sam's old-fashioned parlor

wrap us all up whole

and close.

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