The orange and white tabby next door,
has pale green eyes
that look into your soul
when he brushes against your leg.

He lays down on the sidewalk,
rolls around, waiting for you
to rub his belly and scratch his ears.

He’s disappeared twice now 
for months at a time–always returns 
despite rumors of a pack of coyotes 
hiding near the expressway, 
by the woods and rocky cliffs 
under a mile from our neighborhood,

The squirrel, vole, and mole population
has been greatly reduced 
since Thomas the cat arrived next door.
I was thankful, gave treats,
especially after about 20 white impatiens,
outlining a curve in the in the front yard
were desimated at the root and 22 survived.

I never considered Thomas a top predator,
in competition with the mysterious owl
who hoots early evening and dead of night,
its shadow visible occasionally 
perched on the giant maple across the street–

But one morning, he slinked past me
as I watered my pink climbing roses,
a tiny baby bunny dangling 
from his mouth, whimpering,

I chased Thomas with a pan of water,
freeing the bunny from his grip,
moments later the bunny was back
in the mouth, on the tongue 
that had so gently licked me,
licked my little grandson,
in that tickle of sandpaper way.

No more treats for Thomas–
ever, ever.