Ranger unhappy in his cage.
Little Ben thrusts a paw
inside, comforting the prisoner.
What has Ranger done? No one
can say; but when Gretchen’s voice
ascends the stairs, Ranger cocks
his ears and growls. Little Ben
reassures him. I crack the door
and insert a dose of canned food.
Ranger scoops it up and grins
his pale orange neutered grin.
Later I clear the area,
unlock the cage and exhort
Ranger to roam and chase a ball.
Rumbling from corner to corner,
batting the ball and my dangling paw,
Ranger plays at being a cat.
As a kitten rescued from a wall
he seemed a normal smudge of orange.
Why is he now on Prozac? What grim
officious person did he bite?
Gretchen? Mary? No one recalls,
no one knows why we drug him.
Liberated, playful, he’s all cat,
but one of the shelter managers
wants to kill him: unadoptable
and lacking a quality life.
That isn’t going to happen.
Little Ben joins in the play
and the two rush around together,
their brisk little faces brimming
with the vital force Thoreau
treasured in everything alive.