Bone grey exhaustion, for weeks, I paced the tight rectangle of our house, a rhythm punctuated with remote conversations, volume and brightness turned up. Only you sniffed out the performance. Every morning, your paw reaching softly, insisting I leave the drowning shadows. Your pink jaws, wide teeth, calling me out, when I just wanted to be left alone. Tiny, you roamed cold streets for scraps, a lonely beginning for any creature, wildness tutored by stony experience. You were fierce enough to fight and tear and run. Yet, when we met, you clung to my shirt, as if I already belonged to you, shredding the cloth with sharp fragility, cowed by harshness, shadow memories, that took years for us to forget. Though we took you as a kindness, because one abandonment is too much, each day your ruthless kindness chooses me. When I could do nothing for myself I could still care for you. Now you have passed me in age, and I am stronger, because of you. In our garden of palms and flowers you sleep, tucked into the crook of a tree, and I keep that old torn shirt, folded, still.
Stephanie Green has published short fiction, poetry and essays, including in Griffith Review, Axon, Overland and Island Magazine. Most recently her work has appeared in the Anthology of Australian Prose Poetry (2020), The In/completeness of Human Experience (2020) and TEXT Creative Works (Vol 25.1 2021). She has produced a volume of prose poems, Breathing in Stormy Seasons (Recent Work Press 2019) and a collection of short fiction Too Much Too Soon (Pandanus 2006).