FAMILY AFFAIR
by Lisa Starr
Later, after I’ve found a suitable spot
for the baby goldfinch with the puncture
in its chest from my cat’s claw,

enfolding it in a hedge of white lilac
which blossomed three weeks late,
perhaps just to lend some grace to this moment,

I am still thinking about the size of its mortal wound—
barely noticeable—the size of a hang-nail, or a tick—
which gets me wondering about  the size of the tick

that killed Brother—the dog that the cat
and I are still grieving, and learning to live without.
And I walk to the hedge, and I retrieve the bird,

and cupping it against the place where it feels like
my heart is, I walk to Brother’s grave,
and lay it down there, on top of him,

and then I sit down next to it.
I’m not sure how long the cat has been sitting there,
on the other side of me, before I notice her.

I only know that in that moment,
we were a family—
the dead dog, the dead bird, the cat, and me.



Lisa Starr was Rhode Island’s Poet Laureate from 2007-2013. She founded and directed
the Block Island Poetry Project and is a former recipient of the Rhode Island Fellowship in
Poetry. Starr has published three books of poetry, including Mad With Yellow, her most
recent. She also co-edited the anthology Where Beach Meets Ocean. After living on Block
Island for 30 years, where she ran a 10-room inn (The Hygeia House) and raised her
children, Starr has happily relocated to Westerly, RI where she is working on a memoir
(“Writer Inn-terrupted”) and a new book of poems, which are all about children.
APRIL 2017