Cicero on the Death of His Child

Dear B_____, when a limb’s bruised
and swollen, we say
the animal is sick.
Likewise the heart. A brute

knows this, so how much easier do you think
for the wise? Experience
reveals such things.

Returning to the house, M_____ observed
there’s a space
near the back of a cat’s neck,

where if you make a cut
deep enough, it will become so
unaccountably enraged, you’d understand

what the poet meant singing
of Achilles. I found myself thinking
about a room —

my first impression of being
inside a room — not like a fresco freshly painted,
but a bit of arm or shield

on a shard of pottery
among the walls of the fallen city. In that room,
a broken vase, a cat running,
and my mother’s anger.

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