A mere jumble of body parts

Ugo Baldassarre @ Posi+Tive Magazine

Janet Doggett recounts a life in fragments @ Paper Darts Magazine.

It is autumn and the light shines in patches on the cracked sidewalk of my childhood neighborhood. I am six years old, thin, waif-like and blonde. I am a piece of paper blown about by the wind, skipping lines on the walk, squinting up at golden leaves that spark the sky. I spy something buff-colored, tiny and featherless on the edge of the grass, nestled in the dirt. It has eyes, a beak, transparent skin that barely hides fragile bones beneath. Gently, I unfurl my fingers and lay a hand just atop its breast and feel a pulsating warmth rising to meet me. I alight and back away; I turn and run to the house screaming, “I need a shoebox, a SHOEBOX!” Back outside and with care I scoop the smooth wonder up and lay it deep within the box and carry it home. My prize. Mine.


Everything is drenched. The long shards of dark green grass shimmer. We return from vacation and as our garage door opens, we find that our momma cat has given birth to ten, 12, or maybe 14 kittens. But the kittens are sick and some of them are dying. Their soft spotted heads are bent; their tongues show just so. We see the mother with her long white coat take the kittens one at a time by the throat and carry them off in the yard, to the glistening grass, an early grave. I am a child but age is indeterminate for the job at hand. I’m handed a thick black trash bag that is bigger than I am and bigger than the blood I imagine seeping through the soles of my pristine white tennis shoes. I step carefully through the wet grass, looking for dead cats.
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