Stella trots through the living room,
stub tail wagging, pleased
with herself for having found the baby
bird that now writhes in her mouth.

Frantic, I drop the laundry 
I’ve been folding to the floor,
press thumb and fingers against her jaw,
lift her muzzle until she releases the clutch

of her canines and delivers
the nestling into my palm.
Bloodied, it gasps, desperate for breath, 
one of its wings entirely gone. 

I cradle the creature, whisper
Oh, I’m so sorry, baby. So, so sorry
over and over as though my own mouth 
inflicted this maiming.

I’m down on my knees again
in the middle of nowhere, a place I hate 
but plant myself for marriage’s sake.
My husband takes the bird outside.

Maybe the problem is that I love
too much, can’t accept when a thing is bound 
to die. I press my face to emptied hands, 
wait for the gunshot.