The alarm was a high-pitched squealing
that went on and on, piercing the morning.
The victim was a half-grown rabbit
that had strayed into our garden.
The predator was our arthritic and ancient cat,
showing that her killer instincts were not yet dead,
her jaws clamped on the rabbits neck,
carrying her prey to the lawn and wrestling it down.
I was the witness, but I had no equanimity,
my heart thumping with the sound and sight of it.
I watched the jaws shift their grip incrementally deeper;
I saw the struggles to escape, the cat’s weight pinning down,
the pumping of the back legs lifting the cat rhythmically
up and down, the two joined now as one body.
I got a knife from the kitchen
to rescue the rabbit from a slow death with a quick one
but I could not get between them.
I stood by as the struggles, silent now, slowed down;
I saw the bite go deeper,
the struggles become twitchings,
the twitchings become stillness,
and all become quiet, all become release.
The aftermath was that the cat ate the rabbit’s head,
brains and skull and fur and all,
and I threw the headless corpse into the field.
Later still when we were having tea outside,
the cat looked so confused and upset
that I fetched the corpse back from the field
and we all ate companionably together.
She finished off the whole thing over the next day or so,
leaving only a few scraps of fur scattering on the grass.
And the verdict? You decide…