Jeremy Griffin


A needle to the tender bend of hind leg
is all it takes to unmoor the cat from
the banks of the living, and while the vet

murmurs his assurances of nothing
more we could do
to my weeping wife,
all I can think about is the lopped-off head

of the rabid spitz I saw packed on ice,
hors d’oeuvres style, its brain a bomb to be
defused by the CDC, back when I worked

at the animal clinic in Richmond, tending
to the Jacks and Jaspers, the Socks and Mittens,
until the needle beckoned them as well. I learned

how to dim the lights of the self just like
my wife adjusts the blinds every morning
so the sun can’t find us buried

in our coffin of sheets, how to breathe steady
when the last gasp slips the cage of their black
lips: everything returns to the blood

eventually, like the thunderheads
coalescing in the cat’s bloated cells,
a blessing without a hymnal, a dirge

without a minstrel. This is the world for you,
forever on its last breath. So, why do we grieve,
to jettison the memory? No, to cleanse its feet.

Jeremy Griffin

is the author of two collections of short fiction: A Last Resort for Desperate People (SFASU Press) and Oceanography (forthcoming from Orison Books). His work has appeared in such journals as Indiana Review, Mid-American Review, and Shenandoah, and he has received support from the South Carolina Arts Commission. He teaches at Coastal Carolina University, where he serves as advisory fiction editor of Waccamaw: A Journal of Contemporary Literature.