Sense of Place
Poem by Justin Vicari. Photo by Ira Joel Haber.

The FORECLOSURE sign might make a kind of Art Brut,
the Vietnamese gallery owner sighed.  But now
she’d have to give all the consignments back
to the artists -- and where would she
and her little daughter sleep?  Were they supposed to
turn into surrealist paintings and
sleep in midair?  That upscale Shadyside street
rejected her attempt to rise above immigrant
status and a violent marriage
                like an incompatible kidney.

A litter had been born in the basement;
she gave me a kitten, the runt, the only
survivor of feline leukemia, the others dead
sucking the dead mother’s teats.  He keened behind
my fridge, all but blind.  In bed at night,
trying to keep him warm in that new place,
I rolled on top of him, startled awake by his muffled
screams --

        how do you say? -- wanting to live
                        in spite of everything.

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