When we moved to the country
my husband said we could
get cats to go along with
the dogs and the horses.
Just barn cats, he said,
to keep the mice down.

Now, he finds kittens
in the middle of the road,
behind the tractor tires,
on the rototiller,
between the horses’ legs,
this time on the lawn mower.
They always have weepy eyes,
as if whatever brought them to us
was unbearable,
as if they’d been crying for days.  

He brings them in,
cradled in his arms,
feeds them,
takes them to the vet,
shows them the kindness
you’d expect.

But we can’t have another cat,
he says, we’ll just get it healthy,
and it (it to not get attached)
can live in the barn.  

It never leaves.  

The scruffy, one-eyed baby
who grew into a grouchy tom
sleeps on our bed,
the feral girl whose bite
sent him to the hospital
curls up on the other side.
Each one finds a place
in this Mother Hubbard house
of colors, mews,
and love.