“How to Drown Kittens in 1958” by Meaghan Elliott

Meaghan Elliott


They’ll starve anyway;
or will you give them your share?
Drowning’s best.
Find a burlap sack. Potato will do.

If it’s not big enough,
take them one at a time.
Place them inside. Hold your hand
tight around the opening and twist.

Their claws poke easily
through the coarse weave of burlap
when cupping your other hand
around the wriggling, tiny body.

The sound they’ll make
will be new to you.
Pay it no mind.
It will be gone soon.

Don’t drop them off the cliff;
they might survive.
Make the water do the soggy work for you.
Submerge the sack and wait.

At this point
they’ll be hard to hold.
They want out.
Be firm. Be patient.

The water will be cold. It always is.
Your hands will want to come out.
They will purple and ache.
They’ll feel stiff for hours after.

When it’s over
you can empty the sack
and leave the body
for the eels.

Just in case, keep the sack.
And as you bring it back with you,
remember the bread
waiting for you on the table.

from Rattle #35, Summer 2011
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