Small things do not deserve to die alone. When I pried the baby rabbit from the dog’s jaws, I thought to put it in the brush pile, but then as I watched, it took a few shallow breaths punctuated by a huge gasp, just the way I do under morphine. I thought I should hold it until it passed; it would just be a few minutes; rabbits are not great-hearted creatures. But then the breathing evened out, the pained eyes closed, and suddenly I had a tiny napping thing in my palm. I found myself scooping grain and filling water buckets with my left hand while it lay in my right. I poured myself some wine and began to hope she would wake up because that was the right thing to hope, but I knew how awful waking up is, how I always come out of anesthesia desperate and vomiting and weeping for the lost oblivion and I was not sad when she died.
RITA ROUVALIS CHAPMAN’s poetry has appeared most recently in Red Earth Review, Rat’s Ass Review, and Bellingham Review. She is a student in the MFA program at the University of Missouri - St. Louis, and teaches high school English.