What Animal Is Your Heart?

I stumbled into this on Twitter, and it’s a reminder that amazing things can still exist in this cesspit we call the internet.

Teacher Kate Clanchy writes: “What animal is your heart? Is one of my favourite poetry questions. But I’ve never had an answer like this.” She’s referring to this poem by one of her students, 17-year-old Kyla Pereles:

“My heart is a cockroach caught in the mouth of an alley cat.

This cat has not always been feral. It had known the warm spot on the rug in front of the fireplace. But on a summer’s day someone left the door open.

The cat, not knowing any dark thing, leapt away from love. (My heart leaves open cans of sardines for the alley cat. Every runaway full of regret deserves to be fed.)

The cat makes a bed of missing pet posters the wind tore down.

And the cat is hissing at shadows in its sleep.

And the cat is shivering in its matted fur.

And the cat is meowing at the restaurant backdoor.

A waiter, who is also my heart, leaves the back door open so the cat can be warm for the rest of his shift.

But the cat is feral. The owner of the restaurant shoves him back into the snow with a broom.

The cat sleeps until the snow reminds it of the rug. Small things seem sadder when they are alone.

So the cockroach does not mind being in the jaw of something just as lonely.

A little girl follows the paw prints that made a snow angel around the cat. Despite the cockroach in its mouth and its matted fur, she picks it up.

And the cat, who knows of dark things now, spends summer in the lap of the little girl, who is also my heart.”

Kyla’s got a hell of a career ahead of her if she chooses to pursue writing.

catinsnow2

3 thoughts on “What Animal Is Your Heart?”

    1. I’m generally not a big fan of poetry because I feel like a lot of people mistake the incoherent for the profound, but Kyla’s poem evokes real emotion and builds incredibly vivid images with just a few words. Laconic prose is a genuine skill, one I have not mastered in my years pushing words around. To see a teenager with that kind of command of language is impressive. I hope she keeps at it…and continues to use cats as her muses. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

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