The white mother cat lay
under faded weeds and grasses
unaware of my attention.
Her two white kittens explored
the wild brush around them,
daring to leave her soft side
for the delight of cool freshwater
streaming through a rocky bed,
emptying into the north bank of
the Altamaha river.
I stood quietly above them
on a weathered deck
leaning on warm railing
bleached silver-gray and smoothed
by years of use and exposure.
I watched the kittens,
their wary innocence false protection
in the harshness of their world
on the edge of a marsh filled
with hidden predators.
One kitten waded into the stream,
pausing, then daintily lapping
the cold, thirst quenching liquid.
Unhurried, head down,
focused on her task,
she took her fill
from the endless current
passing over her paws
and around her small furry body,
so poised in this moment of necessity.
She paused in her labor and looked up at me.
I did not move. She stared, I stared,
blue eyes locked onto blue eyes,
her sweet face expectant, open,
She measured my expression.
I willed her to stay, to trust me,
to fix this shared moment in memory’s memory.
She seemed to hear me as
seconds passed in her appraisal of me
and my appreciation of her.
Then, without blinking, slowly,
she returned to her solitary task,
and left me to return to mine.