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Hunched, obsidian-eyed, and inches
from the curb—one paw gone, the other
           tight as a clasp—
           the animal,
           unblinking, breathes

in little rasps. Why isn't he shaking,
crawling beneath the settled leaves,
           or moving toward
           the gutter, where
           it's quiet under

the sidewalk's shadow? Cars keep missing
him. I think a rock will do.
           A skull that small
           will crack. Nothing
           ironic in

this thought, or in the five-pound block
of cement I find, imagine is
           a stone. To let
           him live seems coldly

But when I'm ready I can't find him;
I jump at stirring leaves; I pass
           a shadow, no,
           a flat, gray thing
           which the wind rustles

and seems to animate again.
I place the block back on the ground.
           It's for the best—
           this instinct teased,
           then put to rest.