How She Loved Us by Caroline Walton

Cats had short life spans
in our house.Not soft deaths,
but loud accidents, splayed
across our driveway.

When the garage door
strangled our tabby,
my mother left the house.
Returned with ice cream.

Photo courtesy of Rachel Kertz

When she ran over
our calico cat, we both saw,
but she kept driving,
turned up the radio.

The surviving cats left
dead birds on our front porch.
Mom said they were gifts,
meant they loved us.

She was the kind of woman
who saved cigarettes for after
we went to bed. Kept wine
in her closet.

When dad moved
to the upstairs bedroom,
I asked why.
It’s because he snores.

The weekend mom took us
on a surprise trip to the river,
we came home and discovered
an empty house.

No blue truck in the driveway,
no razor by the sink,
no ugly ties in the closet.
My mother went out back

to water plants. She held
a bloody silence in her mouth.
Dropped it off, a lifeless bird,
on our front step.




Caroline Walton teaches English in Central Arkansas where she tries to convince teenagers that poetry is actually cool.  When she’s not gushing about poetry, she’s gushing about The Office or her dog Holden.


Rachel Kertz was born in a small town in Missouri in 1988. While earning her degree at Southeast Missouri State University, she became interested in photography and began using her commutes as excuses to go on long drives through the rural countrysides, hoping to find locations and abandoned houses to photograph. She hopes to convey relatable stories in her images that speak to her audience on themes such as loneliness, love, exploration, and the feeling of being alone in unconventionally beautiful places. You can find more of her work here:

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